A superhit golu: How a Chennai-based father-son duo recreated classic film ‘Mayabazar’ for Navratri

R Suresh and Saketh with their special golu   | Photo Credit: R. Ragu

The Tamil classic song ‘Kalyana Samayal Saadham’ fills the air in the golu room at R Suresh’s Mandavellipakkam residence.

Inside, more than 50 toy dolls have been transformed into various characters, including Krishna and Ghatotkacha. There are recreations of seven vital scenes from the 1957 fantasy Tamil-Telugu film Mayabazaar, starring NT Rama Rao, SV Ranga Rao, Savitri and Gemini Ganesan.

Suresh and his son Saketh have used the last few weeks to recreate Mayabazaar in their golu this Navratri. Keeping COVID-19 social distancing precautions in mind, the family does not even step into the room when there are visitors: they give instructions to the Google Assistant placed between two dolls in the golu, to play the relevant scene and music.

A superhit golu: How a Chennai-based father-son duo recreated classic film ‘Mayabazar’ for Navratri

“I remember watching this story as a street play in Vijayawada 40 years ago,” reminisces 60-year-old Suresh, a former IT professional with a passion for the arts, “When it was made into a film, I was awestruck by its plot, songs and grandeur.”

Suresh has watched Mayabazaar in Tamil and Telugu multiple times, and introduced it to his 29-year-old son recently. “It has so many elements — of fantasy, magic and romance — all packed neatly,” says Saketh. The duo’s love for the film shows in its theme-based golu, which not only narrates the storyline but also adds extra elements such as music and lighting.

Suresh is known among his family as the one most interested in dolls and miniatures; travelling relatives would always pick up something to gift him. Over the years, this collection, along with the ones he bought himself, grew: the lofts of all his rooms are filled with them.

They take a trip downstairs during Navratri, metamorphosing into the various characters Suresh plans for them every year.

A superhit golu: How a Chennai-based father-son duo recreated classic film ‘Mayabazar’ for Navratri

The year 2020 saw them turning into Krishna, Abhimanyu, Sasirekha/Vatsala and Ghatotkacha, with Suresh painstakingly designing special clothes for them to fit into the characters that feature in Mayabazaar.

With the lockdown in full effect over the last few months, Suresh has had to make do with household items and a bit of online shopping. “I used a 3D pen to draw a creative jalebi, and some unused CDs became the wheels of a chariot,” he laughs. He also put his knowledge of engineering and digital arts to good use: there’s a ‘flying’ Ghatotkacha attached to a rope, and dolls that revolve in a circular fashion using a small motor fitted beneath.

Watch | A golu based on the film ‘Mayabazaar’

All this is for his family and friends to witness from across the globe. Due to the pandemic, Suresh and Saketh have ‘e-enabled the golu’. Chips in Saketh, “We have timed the entire Mayabazaar story to seven minutes, using Google Routines.”

When they have visitors, Saketh sits in the hall and instructs his e-assistant, which dutifully narrates the tale of Mayabazaar, complete with sound and light. For relatives and friends abroad, the family plans to have Zoom sessions every evening. Says Suresh, “We have celebrated Navratri every year with a unique golu, but 2020 will remain the most memorable.”

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 11:10:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/a-golu-inspired-by-the-film-mayabazar/article32917356.ece

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