Sudhish Kamath

The two-and-a-half hour show directed by Mani Ratnam will be telecast on Vijay TV

CHENNAI: Less than 18 hours before the show was to begin the rain gods had rebelled without cause the last time around, sending hours of hard work, blood, sweat and tears down the drain.

But, 'Netru Indru Nalai', a musical directed by Mani Ratnam, with music by A.R. Rahman, lighting by Rajiv Menon, sets by Sabu Cyril, choreography by Kala master, costumes by Anu and Sai, and co-ordinated by Vasanth, will return with a bang on February 5 at Jeppiar Engineering College.

Bigger and better

"Bigger and better," says Vandana of The Banyan. With a cast and crew that includes the likes of Kamal Haasan, Revathy, Shobana, Simran, Madhavan, Vivek Oberoi, Shilpa Shetty, Shaam, Ramesh Arvind, Simbu, 'Jayam' Ravi, Bharath, 'Kaadhal' Sandhya, Shriya, Reema Sen, Pooja, Diya, Lakshmi Rai, Navya Nair, Genelia, Vishal and Ragasya along with singers Srinivas, Karthik and Blaaze.

Eighty dancers from Kala's troupe have been rehearsing all day for over a week, as the dance master checks the reference videos shot during practice the last time around.

"Because they had practised before, it's easier this timearound. But, they still need to refresh their memory because it was a long while ago," says Kala, as her dancers go about practising steps for 'Rakkamma Kaiyya Thattu ... ', which will feature Simbu and Simran.

"Never before have I seen a show where huge sets, including a ship and a train, disappear and appear on stage in a matter of seconds," she adds.

Committed film stars

Vasanth is quite excited about the participation from the film stars and their unflinching commitment.

"Simran is performing for the first time after her marriage. Not just her, every single star has been extremely co-operative without making us feel obliged," he says.

"The show stopped when the curtain was about to rise. They now want to complete that unfinished mission," he adds.

"They say it's a part of their social responsibility and we shouldn't thank them," says Vandana of The Banyan.

"But, it is our duty to thank the stars, Madras Round Table 1 which is supporting us to build a community health centre at Kovalam, Jeppiar Engineering College and director Regina Wilson, who has treated us like family and provided us logistical support the second time around, and of course Vijay TV."

"We were obviously distraught when we suffered losses but it was Mani who was so confident and gave us all the support.

It's the best gift anyone could have given us - six months of his life, four hours a day. It's been his idea to merchandise it and take the musical around the world," she says.

'Netru Indru Nalai' will also tour the US and UK during the year.

A.R. Rahman has composed a special song for The Banyan, sung by him and a Bosnian singer Alma.

Blaaze, Srinivas and Karthik have come together to put together a track exclusively for the musical.

Santosh Sivan and Alphonse have shot a film directed by Trilok and Sharadha on the occasion and Real Image has done the sound design.

The two-and-a-half hour show will be telecast on Vijay TV and be made available on DVDs.