THEATRE The popular Tamil play ‘Endru Thaniyum Indha Sudhandhira Dhaagam’ was staged amidst much cheer. Ranee Kumar

The name Cho Ramaswami spells success. This play Endru Thaniyum Indha Sudhandhira Dhaagam ( Thirst for Independence ), is a satire on the political milieu of the 70s when it was scripted by Cho. It has any number of viewings to its credit and now has passed on to television personality and actor T.V. Varadharajan who has staged it to packed houses in Tamil Nadu. For city aficionados of Tamil drama, it was a treat.

The theme is democracy in India with a tongue-in-the-cheek appreciation of its unique qualities that cannot be seen or heard in any other democracy, so we are told.

The punchy dialogues had the audience in splits every now and then and the mythological characters through which the theme gets revealed and revelled upon connects well both with urban and rustic viewers.

Nothing works like mythology as India and Puranic lore draws everyone. Indian drama is even closer, so we have our very dependable sage Narada to manipulate events and steer the course of the play.

The first act opens to Narada with a transistor in hand, which he obviously secured from bhooloka (earth and therefore India).

He plays around with the keys of this device which blasts cinema music now, an advertisement slogan then, a politician’s address and what not! This music disturbs the serene Vedic chants in the abode of the rishis (Vasishta and Durvasa) but ironically it kindles their interest in the politician’s speech. They are enlightened by Narada about democracy as a ruling phenomenon in India.

They approach Indra, the undisputed monarch of Devalokam and it is unanimously decided that following the same laws of democracy in India, rishi Vasistha would be the prime minister with Durvasa as the ruling Opposition leader.

The character of Saint Avvayaar (Tamil woman devotee-scholar of Lord Muruga) is introduced as a via media (heaven and earth), a sort of counsel, a commentator on course of events even as Sage Narada is the key interpreter.

Pelf and penury are juxtaposed in the characters of Lord Kubera and Kuchela, as spicy dialogues are tossed across on the new game of politics played in India (earth) in the name of democracy between the two and Yamadharma Raja (Lord of Time and Death).

The entry of a human character, Nalla Tambi in the abode of Yama, leads to a turn in events. A dyed-in-the-wool politician, Tambi dispenses pearls of practical wisdom to the lord of death as well as Indra, challenging the Constitutional authority in self-appointment of leaders without a political party, peoples’ mandate, etc. which further complicates the heaven and its beings.

It’s satire all the way, especially as the cool dude Nalla Tambi mouths some of the home truths of Indian political scenario like votes for money, as seen through the prism of Tamil Nadu politics on the regional level and the national politics. The parody is more of a ridicule of the so-called democratic process in India rather than a thought-provoking satire on the state of affairs that is an indirect call for cleaner administration.

The actors outdid each other in histrionics which was as close to reality as a stage play could be. T.V. Varadarajan as Narada, Ravi Kumar as Chinna Tambi excelled while top notch stage actors of the troupe like Ramachandran as Durvasa, Rajendran as Vasishta, Sukumar as Indra, Swayamprakash as Yama, Sheik Dastagir as Kubera, Anantha Padmanabhan as Kuchela, Shankar Kumar as Chitragupta and Tulasi as Avvayar seemed personifications of the roles they essayed.

The play was a part of the two-day cultural event organised by the JB Foundation at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

The parody is more of a ridicule of the so-called democratic process in India rather than a thought-provoking satire on the state of affairs.