K. Balachander’s love for the stage was reiterated with ‘Idiyudan Koodiya Anbu Mazhai,’ a Shraddha production

Age has neither slowed his thought process nor diminished his penchant for the stage. It was close to 10 p.m. and the curtains had already come down. And there was K. Balachander or ‘KB sir’ analysing the play scene by scene, its plusses and minuses, with all the actors around him, listening intently. It only showed his insatiable appetite for the stage. His plays ‘Major Chandrakanth,’ ‘Server Sundaram,’ ‘Edhir Neechchal’ and ‘Navagraham’ took Tamil theatre to the next level many years ago. It was his concept and story that was enacted as a play titled ‘Idiyudan Koodiya Anbu Mazhai’ at the Narada Gana Sabha this past Monday.

It was Shraddha’s 11th production with Shivaji Chaturvedi and his sister Prema Sadasivam as producers. Their close friend and a veteran of several stage plays, T.D. Sunderarajan, made his debut as director with this play.

The writer in KB remains contemporary in his thoughts and ideas. Here, he took up the problems of peer pressure and loneliness that today’s youth face, particularly a motherless girl.

Sandhya (Shalini Vijayakumar), often left to fend to herself by her ever-busy father, has only the TV for company. This monotony is otherwise broken either by her college mates visiting her or her going out to party with them. Every time they meet, her friends discuss their boyfriends and this gets on Sandhya’s nerves. So Sandhya decides to out-beat them by proving that she too is capable of having a boy friend.

A chance meeting with Santhosh (Rohan Iyer) triggers the story. Impressed by his integrity, she asks him bluntly whether he can act as her boyfriend. She even promises him a salary when she learns of his abject poverty. Santhosh accepts her offer, as his goal in life is to educate himself. He also has to earn to run the house and satisfy his father’s drinking needs.

With the money he gets from Sandhya, Santhosh completes his studies and goes abroad for higher education. Meanwhile, Sandhya falls in love with Santhosh but never expresses her feelings. When Santhosh leaves, Sandhya suffers a nervous breakdown. She is helped by a psychiatrist who pushes her to take up Carnatic music, her childhood passion. Her desire for a relationship with Santhosh is shattered when Santhosh returns part of the money she had given him for his education abroad. Arguments ensue…

The naivety of the hero gave dialogue writer Vivek Rajagopalan ample scope to infuse wit and humour into the lines. There were many thought-provoking lines too. Sample these: “Getting inspired is not just about looking at achievers but also observing the failures of others in life” or “Money causes a rift in friendship.”

Rohan Iyer’s walk with a slouch and dialogue delivery with his eyes rolling, were noteworthy. Archana and Akshaya, the heroine’s friends always bubbly and fun loving, contributed adequately to the play’s progress.

But it was Shalini Vijayakumar who came up trumps and kept the viewers riveted, in a role that was weighty. Both T.D. Sunderarajan and KB Sir have to be commended for their confidence in choosing this young actor and the others mentioned above. Acting comes naturally to Shalini. Emoting very well, she made use of her hands and fingers judiciously, like meddling with her dupatta to exhibit her angst, But what stood out were her facial expressions. Be it a stiff upper lip or a twitch of her face muscles, Shalini brought out the emotions with subtlety.

The ever ebullient ‘Kathadi’ Ramamurthy as the drunken father of the hero, kept you into splits. Special mention must be made of the music directors Giridharan-Amudhan. Using the oboe, cello, piano and clarionet and mild rhythm patterns, their re-recording was apt. A piece in Raag Brindavan played on the clarionet with counters from the cellos in staccato, went well with the blossoming of a relationship between the hero and the heroine.

Subbu’s deft handling of the recorded music enhanced the overall effect. G. Krishnamurthy’s set and lighting design was striking, duly executed by Kumar Shanmugam. Kalai Ravi’s lighting created the necessary mood in the emotional scenes. With Cheenu in charge of set props and stage, there were hardly any glitches and Narada Gana Sabha’s sound handling was at its best. Appropriate was the make-up by Perambur Kumar and Rajendra showing Sandhya a shade darker.

The play was staged at the Narada Gana Sabha Auditorium under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha, Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha and Brahma Gana Sabha.

Shraddha has proved once again that its emphasis is on quality of production. This play is no different.

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