A few of the plays staged at the 25th Summer Drama Festival of Kartik Fine Arts highlighted relevant issues.

Even a simple theme can be impressive depending on how it is presented. Prolific writer and veteran Josier Cheena’s ‘Ishwaryam,’ presented by Raja Mathangi Creations, belongs to this category. The result of ignoring bountiful Nature and the environment for materialistic gains, was the premise chosen by Cheena, who also took the credit for dialogue and direction.

When playwrights act, their characters are usually loaded with dialogue. But Cheena, choosing the role of a partially paralysed person (Jagannathan), given to eccentric and violent behaviour, speaks few lines. Kudos to him for sustaining that awkward posture and gait. Saravanan as Jagannathan’s son, Sriram, was natural, scoring in the scenes where he tackled his difficult wife, Ranjani, played well by Saidai Jayanthy. Ravikumar as Dr. Madan, engaged in the task of tapping into Jagannathan’s psyche did a commendable job. Master Saravanakumar as baby Deepika, stole hearts with his affection for the grandfather.

Writing an original comedy can be tough, especially in this age when internet has so much to offer. Rail Priya’s ‘Ivan Oru Madhiri’ gives you a sense of déjà vu with the typical cast of a government office (late comers, disgruntled attendants, etc.). Add to it a Hindi speaking boss and the resultant misunderstandings, a hero, who solves all problems and a young women caught up in a love triangle.

Rather than trying to ape Maadhu Balaji (Crazy fame), Ananthu should evolve a style of his own. His sense of timing, nevertheless, is impeccable. Sudarshan as Siva the junior clerk, shows potential but has been underutilised. A balanced Sundaresan as superintendent (Mohan), hero Pattabhi (Ananthu), Siva, Ganesh (Devarajan) the ever effervescent attendant, Ezhumugam (Krupa), work together in the Weather office. It seems it is all play and no work and until the interval the play moves on with no semblance of a storyline. The proceedings gather momentum with Priya (Swetha), a young woman joining the office on a transfer.

Blending into the story were Sundaresan’s wife Meenakshi (good show by Sreemathi) and their truant son Kumar. Rajgopal as Gupta, the Deputy Director, is impressive with his Hindi and English.

Swetha as Priya was a bit artificial with her body language and accented English. Music was a letdown. Railpriya should think of new concepts to use the talent of its team in a better way.

Gurukulam Original Boys Company ’95’s play, ‘Andha Naal Gnabhagam’ (ANG) on May 1, was a perfect holiday fare. S. Gowrishankar’s simple story line, which had a philosophical touch and neat dialogue made it a memorable fare.

Hindustani music on the flute and the violin served as a soothing background score And the actors delivered. Jokes peppered the flow without appearing to be contrived.

Four close friends plan a weekend reunion at a mansion in Triplicane, where they had lived together before their careers took off 30 years ago. While three of them are married, shy Balu is still a bachelor living in the same mansion. Viswanathan Ramesh as Ignatius Prabhakar, a leading consultant living in Delhi, was outstanding with his Nagercoil dialect.

As a soft spoken bank manager and an acquiescent husband, Sundar (M.B. Moorthy) and his well educated but domineering wife Gomathi (Srividya) were a picture of contrast. Bearded V.P.S. Sriraman as Rangarajan was loud and bold in his arguments. Malathy Sampath as Kothai was the typical benevolent house wife.

Some members in the audience sure would have gone down memory lane as Sundar recalled the names of eating joints that once flourished and have since closed down. On the whole a moving performance.

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Often the end of a play or film makes a lasting impact. The character of Neelamani in Mayura Priya’s ‘Yenna Kavi Paadinaalum’ will remain etched in the memory of the audience.

P. Muthukumaran, in charge of story, dialogue and direction, acts as Neelamani, a 35 year old mentally-challenged person. His performance was outstanding. ‘Kala Nilayam’ Chandru, a veteran who lends dignity to his roles, played Malaikottai Mahadevan, a Carnatic music vidwan of repute. Sowmya Ramnarayan, as his wife who teaches music at home, not only sang well but impressed as an actor too. Debutant Nandini Srinvas as Nayaki, head of a rich Nagarathar family and a widow with a magnanimous heart, scored full marks with her histrionics. Voice is the asset of Gopinath, who played Gunasekaran the second son of Nayaki. Karur S.P. Rangaraj (remember the old lady, Poornam’s mother-in-law in Thani Kudiththanam), who just celebrated his 80 birthday, showcased his experience throughout as the cook and mentor of Nayaki’s family. Guhaprasad’s music added to the mood. Music, in fact, was used well to take the story forward in this play.

The superlative in the name of the group that brought to a close the 25 Summer Drama Festival of Kartik Fine Arts, remained only on paper. An insipid screenplay with no semblance of a storyline marked Best Arts’ presentation, ‘Vaibogamey’. K.S. Seshadri’s story simply refused to move beyond a point. Sangeetha as Jothika and Venkatesh as Krishnan were natural, while R.S. Rajagopalan as ‘Neutral Narayanan’ went overboard. The sermon by Venkatesh in the last scene, which ran close to ten minutes, tested one’s patience. What an archaic and sad way to finish the drama festival.