Theatre

The Tamil play Charukesi captures the joys and travails of a musician

From ‘Charukesi’

From ‘Charukesi’ | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Watching a Tamil play on a warm Sunday evening turned out to be a pleasant experience. It was the 25th show of United Amateur Artistes’ (UAA) latest play  Charukesi, staged at Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, T. Nagar. Melodious music that played in the background set the tone for the play, named after a Carnatic raga and spun around the life of a musician.

The show began with a brief AV on the journey of UAA from the days of Y.G. Parthasarathy, and then appeared the protagonist Charukesi (Y.Gee. Mahendra) presenting a feisty thillana at the end of a concert.

The idea for the script, written by Venkat, came from the late ‘Crazy’ Mohan. The play has been directed by Y. Gee. Mahendra.

The story revolves around the life of Charukesi, a well-known musician, and his battle with Alzheimers. Distraught over being ridiculed by people, who once celebrated his musical skills, he and his family find ways to cope with the situation. When Charukesi succumbs to the disease, ragadevta (lord of music) appears and blesses him to be reborn as a musician. It is a sort of an open-ending that allows the viewers to interpret the scene in their own way. Though the deeper message, conveyed subtly, was that art never dies and legends live on.

The play may seem to strike a sombre note but there are scenes such as those between Charukesi and Chellappa (Balaji), who plans his concerts and manages his finance, and also those featuring Suppini, president of a music sabha. These have been conceived in the trademark YGM style.

Mahendra, who completes six decades on stage, makes an impact with his portrayal. The scene where he tries to hide his embarrassment over forgetting the lyrics of a song during a concert due to his medical condition was particularly moving.

The last few minutes of the play ran high on emotion. Charukesi is taken to a police station by a constable on suspicion but is bailed out by a man from a nearby hutment.

Kaushika as Charukesi’s daughter-in-law came up with a neat performance, while first-timers Kala Varadhan and Francis (needs to improve his enunciation), didn’t disappoint either. V. Balasubramanian, who plays ragadevan, has also composed the background score.  UAA presented the event in association with Valarmadhi Productions, Abbas Cultural, and Roshni Fine Arts.

It’s not often that you get to see a play based on the life of a classical musician. In that respect, Charukesi is a welcome idea.


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Printable version | May 19, 2022 7:36:04 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/the-tamil-playcharukesicaptures-the-joys-and-travails-of-a-musician/article65430744.ece