It was an evening of merriment and music as Karadi Tales brought alive its popular rhymes in a musical Once Upon a Bak Bak Tree

“I don’t know about the kids, but I had a blast,” says Shruti, mother of a 10-year-old boy. She shows her palms, all red with clapping. She has just emerged from the PSG auditorium having attended the musical Once Upon A Bak Bak Tree brought to Coimbatore by Karadi Tales. With her is a grey-haired lady, beaming widely. “My kids are 25 and 21. There was a time I could reel off entire stories from the Karadi Tales series, songs and all, without once looking into the books. I have forgotten a few of the songs, but I sang along too. The words may have been all wrong, but the emotions are all in place.”

Thanks to Karadi Tales, the evening was a rare one, with parents and grandparents, kids and grandkids sitting side by side, laughing together and singing along with the performers on stage. Especially with Usha Uthup, who effortlessly won over the kids and quite a number of the grown ups too, with her energetic Chai Chai followed by other Karadi Rhymes favourites such as Mangoes sweet Mangoes, Monkeys … and My name is Madhavi…, Ganga Yamuna Krishna….Bak Bak Tree narrated the story of the Monkey and the Crocodile and the Lion and the Mouse.

Those who have grown up with Karadi Tales are no strangers to Uthup’s deep and wonderful voice. To see her right there in person smiling widely at the audience demanding they sing along with her was special. Shobha Viswanath, publishing director of Karadi Tales Company, says she was blown away by Coimbatore’s enthusiasm. “Smaller cities always surprise us with their enthusiasm. Coimbatore was special with its uninhibited response. We were sold out.” Shobha says they were really sad to turn away people from the musical as there were no tickets left. But she hopes Karadi Tales will be able to make this theatrical production an annual affair. “May be, next time we will take up our mythological series such as Krishna, Hanuman and Ganesha for a musical.”

Archana Dange, head of operations, Eurokids, Tamil Nadu (they were associate sponsors for the musical), said: “We didn’t think for a second about co-sponsoring the musical. Coimbatore is starved of entertainment for children. We drag kids to grown-up events and they get bored. Then, we complain about them visiting video parlours or watching TV. Bak Bak… proves that children’s entertainment doesn’t have to be huge or elaborate. We need more such entertainment.”

It was indeed pure entertainment with storytelling being the hero. It was just the text of the Karadi Tales. The stories are so beautifully written, and the music spectacular (Drums Murali kept the tempo kicking). It was so easy to clap and stomp our feet to.

Dramatic flourishes such as the mango-juggling by the monkey and his friend, the crocodile, were brilliant. It had the kids in the house falling about with laughter, and one had forgotten how delightful the unfettered laughter of children can be. A couple of children even went up on stage and sang My name is Madhavi…with a little bit of help from Usha.

The props and costumes were simple and effective and most importantly, the actors were convincing as kids (one easily forgot that they were actually adults!). The musical was pitched at the kids, tailored for them, and it entertained them completely.

Of course, this did not mean that the adults hung back. They sang along lustily with Usha Uthup and clapped as gleefully as the kids. As one lady was overheard commenting, “I think they should have a show exclusively for the moms. They all know the Karadi Rhymes by heart.”