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Courting cupid with a comic slant

"Kaadhalikka Naeramundu" ... rightly dedicated to Chitralaya. -- Pic. by K. V. Srinivasan

THOSE WHO have noticed Y. Gee. Mahendra's particular affinity for the Tamil film "Kaadhalikka Naeramillai," directed by Sridhar (Chitralaya Films), would well understand the zest with which he has launched UAA's 55th play, "Kaadhalikka Naeramundu."

Whenever YGM gets a chance to share stage space with doyens of yesteryear cinema he has always touched upon with sentiment, on the healthy humour of "Kaadhalikka Naeramillai" — an everlasting laugh riot of the 1960s. After a stint with some serious stuff, UAA returns to comedy with this new venture. "Total Galatta," is how Mahendra describes "Kaadhalikka Naeramundu," which he dedicates to Chitralaya, the prestigious house that produced many a path-breaking film a few decades ago.

Apart from the similarity or otherwise of the title of the film and the play, another interesting aspect is that "Kaadhalikka Naeramundu," has been written by Chitralaya Sriram, son of `Chitralaya' Gopu, who had penned "Kadhalikka Naeramillai." Under the auspices of Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, UAA staged "... Naeramundu," dramatised and directed by Y. Gee. Mahendra, at the Vani Mahal recently.

Venkat (YGM) is on the look out for a job, but is more keen on impressing the young woman, Gayathri (Nagalakshmi), who occupies the flat opposite his along with her dad (`Typist' Gopu) and unmarried aunt Pankajam (Anandhi). Another resident in the building is the middle-aged bachelor Panchapakesan (Sivaji Chaturvedi), who tries to woo the elderly aunt, in vain. In "Galatta Kalyanam" (Sivaji Ganesan comedy) style, Gayathri tells Venkat that their marriage would take place only after her aunt Pankajam finds her long-lost lover. Venkat and his friend Ananthu (A. K. Hussain) adopt strange ways to bring home the lover who deserted Pankajam 15 years ago. The hilarity in "... Naeramundu" escalates to rib-tickling levels at this juncture. Narrated in a light vein, YGM's latest play is not just a string of jokes — it has a coherent storyline too.

Initially Sriram's dialogue offers the same old jokes and slapstick fare you've come across in ever so many plays. (The dhobi list swapping places with the actual letter is an example). But after the mid-way point it is genuine, clean, enjoyable fun till the end. And the character which triggers it is Girish, the LIC agent, played by Ramanujam. A comedian in the guise of the Lord is nothing new to the Tamil stage or cinema. But Ramanujam's portrayal, Sriram's dialogue and Mahendra's conceptualisation of the sequences have you in splits. And looking around you notice the crowd (sizeable, you could say, compared to the number which frequents drama halls these days) without exception, laughing their lungs out. Girish's Malayalam twang and the thief's (J. Subramanian) `Madras' dialect add to the fun.

Venkat and Ananthu being fooled so easily by the thief, who makes his intentions blatant, is again an oft-seen comic strain. Yet the dialogue delivered with the right modulation and timing, and the well-coordinated enactment evoke a smile. Most of the scintillating songs from " ... Naeramillai" form the background score of " ... Naeramundu."

If you are in a mood to put up your feet, relax and have a hearty laugh (and would not mind the not-so-new humour in the first half) this UAA show is where you should be.


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