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Silent message

Through mime M. Rishi entertains and spreads the message that good triumphs

HUMOUR THAT evoked peals of laughter, action that expressed the trauma of a destitute and a message on the triumph of the good, were the unique components conveyed in a mime show, titled Who Holds This Humanity, organised at the Alliance Francaise recently. Of course, what marked the show was the absence of the spoken word. Actions did all the talking. Actions as a form of expression as well as the significance of the good and the bad deeds of man were the highlights of the show. It was a remarkable one-man act as the sole performer M. Rishi impersonated all the characters in the mime, changing from one body language and character to another, in a matter of seconds.

It did seem novel to see one person so convincingly portray different characters in the same story. Rishi started off as a thief, robbing a house and thoroughly enjoying it. The expressions of a callous, irresponsible thief adorned Rishi's face that lit up in a mischievous grin. His actions of troublemaking carelessness were humorous and were thoroughly enjoyed by the audience. The owner enters (Rishi again) and drives the thief away. If one thought acting as two characters was tough enough, Rishi went a step further to enact the character of a third and possibly most difficult character. Rishi transformed himself into the character of a mentally retarded and physically handicapped beggar. A beggar who is ridiculed by the thief but a beggar with a heart of gold. The thief meets with an accident and is helped by the beggar. The troublemaker is touched by the goodness and turns over a new leaf. To shuttle between playing a clever thief and a disabled beggar seemed natural to Rishi who depicted the transformation from character to character with great ease. The pain, innocence and simplicity of the beggar were enacted with an emotional sensibility that was heart-rending. Without a backdrop, a narrator and dialogue, Rishi's expressions were all that spoke. The notorious thief and the helpless beggar were portrayed to perfection reflected in the actions which were articulate, powerful and very gripping, humorous at one instance and touching at the other. The idea of the story came from a real-life incident Rishi saw on the street, an intoxicated man was helped by a disabled beggar. The incident struck a chord in Rishi's heart and the story of this mime was found.

Rishi has 14 years of experience behind him as his love for impersonations can be traced back to his childhood days. Comedy is what he enjoys doing the most, but realises that mime is a powerful medium that can entertain as well as spread a meaningful message. He has travelled extensively throughout the State spreading the message against smoking and robbery, and praising the humanitarian causes undertaken by the Puttaparthi Satya Sai organisation. All this through mime as a medium. There are no words, only body language and facial expressions speak.

"I observe people very carefully and catch their mannerisms. Whenever I find anyone interesting, I follow their behaviour," he says. The sense of portraying the eternal struggle between the good and the bad also is an inherent idea of this artiste. Apart from evoking laughter and appeasing the crowd, what also matters is spreading the message that goodtriumphs in the end. Like in the case of the beggar and the thief, for instance. And, this was the theme of the mime Who Holds This Humanity.


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