After its maiden docu-effort ‘Ariyakkudi Mudhal Semmangudi Varai’ Mudhra Music (Ph: 044-28264493; email: mudhramusic@gmail.com) has come out with a DVD feature, ‘Nawabilrindu Naveenam Varai’ on 10 yesteryear personalities who have made an indelible impact on the Tamil theatre scene. Mudhra describes the documentary as ‘unique', and to a large extent it is.

As the title suggests, the DVD opens with stage doyen Nawab Rajamanickam Pillai’s endeavours, and the prevalence of all-male troupes known as boys companies more than seven decades ago. With the music of the therukoothu piece ‘Vandhaenae…’ from the film, ‘Navaratri,’ made memorable by Sivaji Ganesan and Savitri, playing in the background, the segment has film historian Randor Guy, throwing light on several aspects of the theatre movement of the era. In fact Guy’s casual, narrative style enhances the interest element. TKS Brothers, S.V. Sahasranamam, R.S. Manohar, Y.G. Parthasarathy, T.S. Seshadri, Poornam Viswanathan, playwright Komal Swaminathan, V. Gopalakrishnan and ‘Major’ Sunderrajan are the artists featured.

As the 10 veterans in the disc are no more, people close to each of them recall their association. ‘Nawabilirundu… ’ also has clippings from films that the actor or writer in question has been involved. The snippets shown are very relevant and make the disc riveting. Yet the snag lies in the fact that every one of them extols the artist’s virtues in more or less the same words that in the process the exercise sounds like a mere tribute piece, when it is actually much more. Among the relatives, friends and actors who share their thoughts the ones who stand out are Sidhan, who recalls funny anecdotes that took place during his theatre days with his guru R.S. Manohar, and Y.Gee. Mahendra, the actor-son of veteran YGP, who in his levity-filled style talks about his father’s love for theatre, which made him resort to expletives if actors were not punctual or when matters on stage went awry! Also journalist ‘Major’ Dasan’s account of the significant role ‘Major’ Sunderrajan played in helping him carve out a career for himself is engaging. More such incidents, both serious and humorous, could have made the disc even more absorbing.

At the end of the DVD directed by ‘Anandam’ Ramki, Mudhra Bhaskar, who has conceptualised it, says that several other stalwarts of the Tamil stage, such as M.R. Radha, Thangavelu and Surulirajan can find a place only if the first attempt in the series finds enough public response.

If you are a connoisseur of stage and cinema and are an avid follower of the art history of the State, you should find ‘Nawabilrindu Naveenam Varai’ absorbing.

Nawabilrindu Naveenam Varai -- DVD

Documentary

Price: Rs.200