Shraddha deserves applause for staging Era. Murukan’s plays that show how money and technology erode humane qualities.
Shraddha has raised the bar higher with three short plays written by Era. Murukan depicting the past, present and future. It is difficult to give shape to such abstract ideas for the stage, but the playwright has done it with aplomb. One needs to appreciate the spirit of Shivaji, T.D.Sundararajan and Prema Sadasivam of Shraddha because of their passion for the stage and the way they change its dimensions with every production.
As the curtains went up for ‘Azhwar’, the audience applauded the brilliantly designed set that showed an obscure lane in the city with a flour mill, saloon, an array of shops with cinema posters on their walls, and a mansion with an open terrace (set design by G. Krishnamurthy and execution by Mohan Babu). Aazhwaar sporting a tuft, a dhoti and a tirumann on his forehead, is searching for his nonexistent friend Sadagopan in the mansion. He meets young Adaickalaraj, who is also looking for some one. The young man is baffled by Aazhwaar’s unusual behaviour and talk. Aazhwaar persuades Adaickalaraj, to visit his house, in the belief that he is Sadagopan’s associate. As they walk along the foggy street, the shops in the background undergo a change drawing appreciation from the audience. Aazhwaar emotionally renders a pasuram ‘Unnum Soru’. He lives in poverty with hisdaughter Vaidehi, who supplements her father’s meagre pension by selling vadams and appalams. They have an imposing statue of Lord Hanuman for which Aazhwaar collects money from every one for nithya Aradhanai. Vaidehi explains to Adaickalaraj about her father’s absent mindedness and how he brings home strangers and apologises for her father’s action. Empathising with her predicament, Adaickalaraj offers to help by asking her to supply her products to the provision shop where he works and also contributes to the nithya aradhanai. Nelson Ilango as Adaickalaraj, Shalini Vijayakumar as Vaidehi and T.D.Sundararajan (TDS) as Aazhwaar all gave a splendid performance.
‘Silicon Vaasal’ also opened to a spontaneous applause for its amazingly designed set: A software firm on the fourth floor of a building with glass windows overlooking a canopy of trees and sky scrapers. The plot focuses on the plight of today’s youth employed in software firms, where they face work pressure, targets and achievements. Solaiappan tackles a nagging wife at home and an indignant boss at office. He is on the verge of completing a project to be sold to a foreign client but falls short of the target date. Both his NRI manager and boss threaten him with the pink slip, if he fails to deliver on the revised target date. Afraid of losing his job, he works overtime. As fatigue sets in, he goes into a trance. The customer statue (Hemanth) acts as his conscience keeper. Solaiappan manages to finish the project successfully but realises that his original file has got corrupted and he has failed to keep a backup one. His fear of being fired makes him delirious. But it ends on a happy note as his bosses, monitoring his work, discover a backup file in the company’s exclusive cloud and he is rewarded with an assignment in London.
The casting of Solaiappan as Suraj was apt while Girish Ayyapath impressed as the merciless NRI Manager. Veteran TDS’s flawless direction showed his penchant for learning and updating himself to remain contemporary.
‘Ezhuthukkarar’ was a peep into the future. Stylish Nandini is a high paid software business manager. Her husband Paranan also has a high paying job. They feel money can buy them anything they want. Nandini is looking for a person who will write letters on their behalf, the content of which will be available on their computer. She has a list of dos and don’ts that the writer must adhere to. This new technique on stage kept the audience engrossed.
Nandini’s list restricts the writer from moving out of the drawing, relaxing during the 9-5 working hours, bringing food from outside and even interacting with the couple’s little son. On one occasion, the writer flouts one rule to tell the child a story. Before the tale could end, the narrator has a heart attack and dies. Nandini pulls her son away without offering the writer water or first aid - a poignant moment in the play. She then reveals the writer’s identity: the Ezhuthukkarar is her father-in-law.
Kavitha as Nandini was at times condescending, at times ruthless and looked very natural. Veteran Kala Nilayam Chandru as Ezhuthukarar did a tough job with ease. Giridharan impressed with his background score. G. Krishnamurthy directed this play and ‘Azhwar’ with conviction. Chetta Ravi’s lighting efficiently co-ordinated by Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Special effects by Senthiladipathy, Shankar and Satish enhanced the show. This writer left the hall with the feeling of having read three short stories of Sujata.
Recently Karthik Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha, Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha and Brahma Gana Sabha hosted the plays at Sathguru Sri Gnananda Hall of Narada Gana Sabha, Alwarpet.