During the day, they work furiously on reports and meet clients. But their evenings and weekends are devoted to Tamil theatre. Srinivasa Ramanujam talks to a few such young artistes
Vivek Rajagopal (29)
Vice-president (strategy and planning), Narayana Health
He’s the brain behind Chennai Drama House, a theatre group consisting of stage-crazy youngsters who have significantly changed the way Tamil theatre has been perceived by audiences. Working six days a week in Bangalore, Vivek travels to Chennai every weekend for rehearsals. “When we started the theatre troupe in 2008, we didn’t have a deadline or goal — I just wrote a script, and a group of us started rehearsing. But after the success of our first play, it was a huge challenge for me.
Everybody at my workplace — right from my colleagues to the CEO — knows about my passion for Tamil theatre and supports it.” Currently, Vivek is busy writing the comic caper Kalyana Velaiyil Karadi, which will premiere in May.
Shalini Vijayakumar (21)
Creative coordinator, Pinacca
Her tryst with the stage started when she was in college. After finishing a course in Electronic Media at MOP College for Women, Shalini went on to dabble in English theatre. When theatre group Shraddha Idiyudan Koodiya Anbhu Mazhaiapproached her to play the lead in its venture Idiyudan Koodiya Anbhu Mazhai, she grabbed it, not just because it would be her first Tamil play but also as its story and concept were by legendary director K. Balachander. “It was a great learning experience,” she recalls. Today, she seeks to strike a healthy balance between her passion — acting — and her profession. “I love being on stage. I’m trying to fit this world within my professional work routine.”
Sriram Ganesan (26)
Practising chartered accountant,
Sriram’s day begins quite early. At 6 am, he’s ready to take classes for CA aspirants and once that’s done, heads to his workplace. There, numbers dominate his life. But come evening, and theatre takes over — if he’s not at a rehearsal, he’s at a play ensuring things don’t go awry backstage. A vital part of theatre group Dummies’ B Team, he has written and starred in plays such as Memory Minus. “As I’m in the finance sector, things are flexible and that helps me a lot to indulge in theatre,” he says.
Swetha Srinivasan (27)
Theatre entered Swetha’s life when she was in school. She was fascinated by the artistes performing live and getting instance applause. She still is. Today, this Rail Priya product balances her professional life — which involves analysing equity — and her passion with ease. “One drives the other,” she feels. “Work is always, well, work. I didn’t want to make theatre my profession because I felt that by doing so, I might lose a bit of my passion. Theatre fits in perfectly — giving me an instant high whenever I perform.” Swetha, who has been in the Tamil theatre scene for a long time, has starred in many acclaimed plays, including Thanneer Thanneer. She has even been part of Dramathons, in which she played different characters in 12 short plays staged through the night.