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Just for laughs

``Megaa Vasool" ... a motley crowd. — Pic. by K. V. Srinivasan.

A TYPICAL offering from Natakhapriya is ``Megaa Vasool." The aim here (as in all the other plays of S. Ve. Shekher) is to arouse laughter. In the early productions, there was a conscious attempt to fit the quips into a coherent story. In the past few years, with the audiences just flocking to his shows, it is as if there is no need of even a pretence and the idea of a story or theme has been brushed aside.

``Megaa Vasool" has a motley collection of characters. They wander on and off the stage spouting witty and not so witty lines on politics, the water shortage in the city and poems of the most execrable quality. They appear by turn or together to deliver the dialogue by Govi.Govan which lacks a central thread. Each of them has a prefix which satirises a certain trend in society. `Certificate Samynathan' (Telephone Mani) issues degrees and certificates at the drop of a hat from non-existent universities abroad or to honour dubious politicians.

`ABCD' Shakuntala(Vandhana) is a school teacher with a police constable daughter `Cutting' Kavitha (Sujatha), who is always taking off her cap as a receptacle for a bribe. `Jolly' Jakkayya (Raja) is a self-professed Gandhian.

`Collection' Kandasamy

The butt of satire is `Collection' Kandasamy (Kaladhar) who goes around with a piggy bank slung around his neck. He is a politician fond of a certain colour which gives the writer plentiful opportunities to talk of those who are afraid to openly show their religious faith. Kandasamy is desperate that his daughter `143' Gayathri (Soundarya) fall in love to save him the trouble of finding her a groom.

`Alliance' Arumugam (S. Ve. Shekher), is a matchmaker who is the object of the affections of Kavitha and Gayathri. Their attempts to win his heart range from the mildly funny to the ridiculous. There are a couple of more characters with their own fixations.

Suddenly becoming aware of the need to inject some dramatic tension, writer-director Shekher introduces a magic necklace which brings undreamed of wealth to those who touch it. It is given to Arumugam by `Good Luck' Guduguduppai (Vathiyar Raman). All the characters scheme to possess it. And this finally produces a moral

(introduced very obviously) that it is necessary to work hard to attain what you wish.

The play appeared to have been staged prematurely without adequate rehearsals for it had the artistes looking at one another for cues and consciously speaking into the mike. Even Shekher seemed distracted, managing only through his long experience to toss out the lines at the appropriate places in his disarming style.

Some of the digs at politicians were good. But Shekher's sympathies with the ruling party in the State, which he has joined recently, were only too evident. Almost all the barbs were directed against the rival party, too many and too blatant.

Coarse toilet humour and sexual innuendoes dotted the play, some of them crossing the line of acceptability. The play had its moments but these were few and far between. Shekher's fans are innumerable and they are sure to patronise ``Megaa Vasool" and bring in the collection. But the crassness and the incoherent plot put off the dispassionate viewer.

``Megaa Vasool" was presented at the Thyagaraya Hall under the auspices of the Abi, Sri Devi Fine Arts on July 25.


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