Friday Review

Dream does the trick for this play

Actor Y.Gee. Mahendra along with his troupe performing ‘Soppana Vazhvil’. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj  

Ganesan, the lead protagonist of the popular Tamil play Soppana Vazhvil (In Dream World), is a character whom we’d have come across in different stages of our lives. Not the most proactive of individuals, he’s innocent, a workhorse bound by his home and has small ambitions. The sadder part, he doesn’t fit into a society marked by rigid conventions and is a source of constant mockery until one incident swings the pendulum in his favour. What is nearly a story of an underdog’s victory has shades of grey, takes time to build the tempo amidst a humourous backdrop. Significantly dialogue driven, the play rides on Y Gee Mahendran’s ability to put its multilayered message across.

The play hams a lot to usher in contemporary relevance, although you’re comforted by its escapist charm.

The characters are grounded and yet dramatic when necessary. A certain grouse in the proceedings is the time it takes to establish Ganesan’s character traits. While the parts that surround him, like the dutiful wife Meera, the wily but humane friend Vasu, the proud father Parameswaran have crisp introductions, there’s forced slapstick humour to make one empathise with Ganesan’s plight.

There are a lot of political satires and commentary as a result, distracting a viewer’s attention from the plot. Soppana Vazhvil’s sharp screen writing shows when Ganesan miraculously foresees the future through a dream. Not for once does this setting feel illogical.

While one is largely aware of Mahendran’s comic abilities, his range shows how he justifies his immaculate character transition in the latter parts. He’s at his best in one of the most humourous sequences in the play, where the astrologer comes to Ganesan’s house and there’s a classic exchange of words. Mahendran’s extensive yet effective monologue culminates the play well. The monologue features a good amount of improvisation to spoon feed the play’s intent of empathising with the dull-witted.

Still, there are certain gaps to be filled, like the reasons behind the law sparing Ganesan, Vasu being left behind bars and if vengeance is indeed the right method to take on society.

It is also the strength of the play that invokes these thoughts and also leaves certain aspects to your imagination.

TV actor Yuvasree and Brinda (fittingly called theatre-Manorama) leave their mark in a work largely dominated by Mahendran and Gopu Babu’s writing (who also plays a small and an effective role in the play).

Some dialogue trimming and better efforts to modernise it, are sure prolong the play’s longevity.

The play was organised by SICA and Shriram Properties at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Hyderabad.

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2020 6:49:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Dream-does-the-trick-for-this-play/article16083332.ece

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