Theatre Marina’s Anniyal explores the fragile nature of self-perception through a Tamil adaptation of Girish Karnad’s Broken Images

The play shows how the images of ourselves are carefully crafted and not a true representation of who we are

Updated - July 10, 2024 02:15 pm IST

Published - July 05, 2024 04:16 pm IST

Theatre Marina’s Anniyal staged at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore.

Theatre Marina’s Anniyal staged at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore. | Photo Credit: SRINATH M

Theatre Marina’s Anniyal, staged in Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, is a Tamil adaptation (direction Giridharan) of Girish Karnad’s play Odakalu Bimba (Broken Images). Anniyal shows how the images of ourselves, which we present for public consumption, are carefully crafted, and not a true representation of who we are. But these images are fragile and can be broken when the still small voice in us becomes active, as happens to Anjali in Anniyal. The play had just one actor — Latha Venkat — playing the role of Anjali, a successful author of a novel in English. The snobbery of the intellectual class, which disdains books in the vernacular, but laps up books in English is exposed.

Anjali, who has to her credit a book of Tamil short stories, says that a writer in Tamil is paid so poorly that she cannot make even sambar with the money. But, for her English story, the publishers have paid her such a hefty advance, that she has resigned her job as a lecturer. However, Anjali is not the author of the novel. She has stolen her dead invalid sister Aarti’s story and passed it off as her own.

The play begins with a smug Anjali answering the questions of her readers in a television programme. She lies blithely, shedding tears over Aarti’s plight and boasts of her own linguistic skills.

Theatre Marina’s Anniyal staged at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore.

Theatre Marina’s Anniyal staged at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore. | Photo Credit: SRINATH M

But when the TV programme ends, she imagines that there is an image of Aarti on the screen. Every excuse she offers as justification for her perfidy is destroyed by Aarti. Anjali is unable to shake off Aarti’s image, which she knows will remain superimposed on her book every time she picks it up, and on every cheque she receives as royalty. With a husband who has drifted away from her and with her conscience nagging her, Anjali’s self-assurance is shattered.

Latha was brilliant showing Anjali’s transition from a supremely confident author to the guilt-ridden sister with a dark secret. G.P.R. Prasanna and R. Giridharan had come up with a very good script.

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