Watching ‘Ragasiyam Parama Ragasiyam’ brought back memories of those days, when this writer was barely out of school. Sitting in the front row, it was impossible not to double up in laughter as the characters engaged in dialogue. Venkat’s lines came back, after 37 years, the echo strangely in the voices of the original actors. The earthy style of YGP, especially, was quite vivid. He might have lacked finesse but the rawness had its own charm. This, incidentally, is the only play UAA has been staging continuously.
And Mahendra improvised, rightly so, to give the play currency. It was amazing how nothing had changed as far as ARS was concerned. Father Murphy carried himself with the same composure and dignity he displayed over three decades ago. Suppuni had not lost his touch either, offering some crackling moments with ‘abbalam.’
However, the series would have gained with the inclusion of at least one play scripted by Mouli. Those familiar with the troupe’s repertoire would have missed the rollicking humour of ‘Flight 172’ and the moving denouement of ‘Padma Vyuham’ and ‘Kurukshetram.’
Readers responded with their comments. Excerpts:
When I was in school, I used to watch sabha dramas often. Later when I was a student in the IIT, I couldn’t watch many plays, but I continued to read articles on theatre personalities and drama reviews in the Friday Review, the flagship supplement of The Hindu. On a recent visit to Chennai, I caught up with UAA's ‘Swadeshi Iyer’ and enjoyed it immensely. I've resolved to see more sabha dramas in the future. Keep up the good work Friday Review.
It was a wonderful experience. We are really moved by the gesture of The Hindu that has involved itself in the promotion of Tamil theatre. Kudos to all the sponsors too. Right from the distribution of passes to making announcements in the newspaper and the ambience of the Narada Gana Sabha Hall, it was an enjoyable experience. That some of the plays were more than three decades old did not take away the entertainment value.
I enjoyed ‘Lights on’ and ‘Nadagam.’ My appeal to the troupe is to come up with a play on corruption.
-Alagappan S.P., (Retd) Bank Officer
It was a pleasant surprise to see a full house at the Narada Gana Sabha for ‘Nadagam.’ People had actually ignored the lure of television, cinema, etc., to watch a Tamil play. The theatre plays a vital role in the uplift of society and communicating messages. May be cine actors should come forward to appear on stage so that the audience is attracted. Both The Hindu and the UAA should be commended for showcasing theatre. More such gestures are needed to encourage other troupes.
Let me thank The Hindu for collaborating with UAA for making the Thamizh theatre festival possible. My husband and I attended the inaugural function, managed to fit in 'Kaadhalikka Neramundu' on a Tuesday evening after work, thoroughly enjoyed ourselves watching 'Swadeshi Aiyar' and signed off in great style after seeing 'Ragasiyam Parama Ragasiyam' on Sunday last. I would have actually loved to watch all the plays especially 'Vietnam Veedu' but time constraints prevented me from doing so.
It was heartening when Mr. Suresh Srinivasan, vice-president, Advertisement, announced that The Hindu would actually like this Theatre festival to happen in other areas of Tamil Nadu also.
My husband and myself had a wonderful eight days. It was great to see packed houses. A few suggestions: A nominal fee so that the money can go to the designated NGOs; since it is going to be a regular annual event, the celebration can be held during the Tamil month of Aadi or Purattaasi to ensure packed halls and select play/skit from school/college levels should be given space to encourage Gen Next. Looking forward to plays that entertain and instil values too.
It gives me great pleasure to inform that I was a member of UAA, now settled in the U.S. for over 45 years. Accepting Y. Gee's invitation, I witnessed ‘Nadagam’ which turned out to be a delightful experience. The Hindu should be commended for the support extended to the UAA that is celebrating a milestone.
-Anantha, Director, Tamil Stage Creations, Houston, Texas (U.S); Now camping in Chennai.
The week long celebration of UAA's 60 years was a grand treat and feast to the audience. Ít had such variety. The overwhelming response to the event, despite television, cricket match and busy schedules, only proves the aura that Theatre has. The audience had people of all age groups – from tiny tots to senior citizens.
The special guests of each day had the audience glued to their seats as they shared anecdotes about the artist and the art. Thanks to the sponsors who made the event possible and available to all. It was good to know that the sale proceeds of the DVD went to a home for specially abled children in Seerkazhi. May we expect more such events in the future?
The plays staged to coincide with the 60th anniversary of UAA were laced with quintessential elements such as subtle humour and yet took on raging issues such as inflation and power suspension. The compelling narrative and the ensemble cast spurred the zeal of the young and the old alike.
‘Vietnam Veedu’ was a refined presentation. ‘Swadeshi Iyer,’ a blend of science and patriotism, upped the quotient of national integration.
‘Venkata3’ was another caper that presented Y.Gee Mahendra’s dexterity as an actor. ‘Ragasiyam Paramaragasiyam’ managed to keep the audience in splits throughout. All the plays were sophisticated, well scripted and well acted. A special word of praise for Mahendra for impeccably essaying his roles with élan.