Theatre

Debates with a difference

Thought-provoking: Yaavarum Keleer.  

The other day, at the weekly show on Pudhu Yugam channel, the moderator stopped the young girl who had just concluded her effervescent intro and was about to begin her arguments.

“Could you repeat your wonderful opening lines? From here, I could see a mere seven people put their hands together. Let them listen to you again,” he said. His shrewd observation got the audience stumped. The man was Prof. Ku. Gnanasambandham, whose debating, moderating and oratorical adroitness are well known, and the programme was ‘Yaavarum Kaeleer.’ Logophiles familiar with the poetic lines of Kaniyan Poongundranar, ‘… Yaavarum Kaelir,’ will appreciate this slightly tweaked title of the show.

Pudhu Yugam scouts for speakers with potential, both in the small towns and in big cities, and turns the spotlight on them on Sundays, 9.30 a.m. Quite a few aspects of ‘YK’ make it interesting. Generally you find two groups debating for and against a topic. But here three view points are presented by an equal number of groups and the subjects chosen are generally different from the routine — light-hearted takes on life that also make you ruminate.

Sample this: When is a man most happy – when he is with his parents, when with his wife and children, or when with friends?

Incidentally, this is the first such show that has the host/judge standing throughout, and interacting in a relaxed, informal fashion. On debating podia (‘pattimandrams’) Gnanasambandham draws attention with his casual and effective lingo and his astounding knowledge of Tamil language and literature.

And the best part of this host’s moderating skills is his self-effacing humour.

Today he is a film and small screen actor and model too, yet it is the litterateur in him who overshadows his other attributes.

At times ‘YK’ proves a learning experience for aesthetes of the Tamil language. He once asked the audience, “The axiom ‘Yezhaikkaetra Ellurundai’ (loosely translated, it means, something that befits a person’s financial status) we’ve heard of, but do you know ‘Kuruvikkaetra Rameswaram’ (a place that suits a sparrow)?”

In the initial episodes of ‘YK” and later in the show shot in Mumbai, three persons took centre stage as special invitees. I was intrigued because their contribution to the show was in no way significant. Thankfully, they are not seen on stage anymore.

A request: The decibel levels of many speakers, grates the ear. Will the host do something about it?


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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 5:58:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Debates-with-a-difference/article14488655.ece

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