Despite the good lighting and acting, Venkat's ‘Edhir Paradhadhu' did not live up to expectations.
It would be a brave man indeed to take a classic movie and adapt it to the stage. And when the original is by the master of suspense and the film has been hailed for its directorial brilliance, the courage needed is ten fold.
‘Edhir Paradhadhu,' written and directed by Venkat, was presented by New Creation at the Narada Gana Sabha hall recently. It formed part of the Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha's drama festival.
In this play based on Alfred Hitchcock's ‘Rear Window,' we have a wheelchair-bound protagonist Jagan (T.D. Sunderajan) who lives alone and is well past his prime. He is engaged -- like the hero of the film -- in the pastime of training his binoculars on the neighbouring flats to relieve his tedium. His friend, a detective (Shivaji Chaturvedi) visits him after a long lapse of time. But visiting him frequently and caring for him solicitously is his young friend Raksha (Sangeetha). She is a lively young woman who looks upon him as a father figure. When Jagan begins to suspect his young neighbour of murdering his wife, he ropes in Raksha and the detective, to nab the culprit.
The sets were good and aided the central design. They cleverly overcame the problem of multi-dimensional camera angles. The living room had a central doorway while to the left of the audience was a balcony like space with a French window. The wheelchair-bound man could train his binoculars on this space to see the goings-on around him.
The various characters inhabiting the apartment block were brought in through the initial device of having each of them appear at the window for a brief time. Also a clever stroke was to do away with them all except the few characters who matter -- Jagan, the detective, Raksha, the young man and his nagging wife, and a sardar, though why so much space and dialogue were devoted this character remained a mystery as the dialogue was hackneyed and the references, politically incorrect.
The characters tried to do justice to their roles and succeeded fairly well. The central character showed his anger convincingly though not his helplessness or surprise. The manner in which he announces the neighbour might have committed a gruesome crime was rather matter of fact. So too Raksha's reception of the news.
Shivaji Chaturvedi as the detective offered adequate support. Sangeetha was good in the scene where she hurriedly digs for evidence. The tempo that is essential to a thriller was lacking at the beginning. Dialogue is the strength of most mainstream plays -- here it was rather inadequate and often lacked punch. The omission of the character of the nurse who appears in the original affected the texture of the production as hers is a fine cameo.
The costume made for strange mix of the churidar kameez, and the suits, hats and raincoats of gangster movies of the Hollywood Fifties.
The lighting (Ravi) and music and sound effects (Guha) were much above average. Mukesh's and Rafi's melodies flooded the stage at suitable intervals creating a warm sense of nostalgia. The end made a parody of Hitchcock apart from being clichéd and run-of-the-mill. Not to forget the now almost mandatory ‘Jai Ho' song at the end.
But only those familiar with Hitchcock's classics would carp. Compared to most sabha plays, ‘Edhir Paradhadhu' might provide an engaging view for those who have not seen the film. For those who have, the window did not open.