Theatre

When Palavakkam was an outback

A scene from ‘Crazy thieves in Palavakkam.’  

100 MINUTES – 200 JOKES is S.Ve. Shekher’s tag line for his plays and he has always lived up to it. Watching ‘Crazy Thieves in Palavakkam,’ Mohan’s script that set a trend in Tamil theatre and got him the sobriquet, one realised Shekher was completely justified in creating that tag line. Revived after four decades, the play had the same charm and was in tune with the modern milieu.

But then Shekher and humour are inseparable. He had this writer in splits, talking about politics, cinema and himself minutes before the curtain went up at Vani Mahal. “When Natakhapriya staged it in the 1970s, the play did not take off at once,” recalled Shekher. ‘Kumudam’ serialised the script and there was no looking back. “That was the golden period for Tamil drama as there were more than 125 sabhas and we had to compete with giants such as Cho and R.S. Manohar. On the trot we did about 800 shows,” he said.

Shekher seems to miss his old co-artistes. “ I miss Sunda who is no more. His energy both on and off the stage was incredible. Again, it was a different era. Sivasankaran and Vijayaraghavan are still with me having been a part of this play from its inauguration,” he reminisced.

Having seen the play three times in its first run and later listening to the same in audio cassettes several times over, it was nostalgic for this writer to watch the production, a mix of old and new actors. The full house comprising many youngsters, for whom it was the first encounter, enjoyed the show that sizzled with wit. Crazy Mohan’s crisp dialogue is definitely the play’s strength. Nothing had changed with S.Ve. Shekher, who as Uppili carried himself with the relaxed air, one is so familiar with. Vandana (Mythili), Suresh (Athimber), Raman (Uppili’s father), and V.S. Sridhar (writer) did their best to match Shekher’s speed in this play, which is about a family shifting from Tiruvallikeni to Palavakkam, considered an outback in the 1970s. Light-hearted thieves — Balu, S.K.S. Ganesan and ICF Rajendran - enter their house leading to a string of rib-tickling situations. A good revival, indeed, by Natakhapriya.



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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 7:59:53 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/When-Palavakkam-was-an-outback/article16083270.ece

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