Scored with socially relevant themes

IMPRESSIVE: (Clockwise from top left) Maanbumigu Nandivarman, Ammavin Aranmanai, Vinoda Vidumurai and Ranganathan Photo Studio.

IMPRESSIVE: (Clockwise from top left) Maanbumigu Nandivarman, Ammavin Aranmanai, Vinoda Vidumurai and Ranganathan Photo Studio.   | Photo Credit: Photos: R. Shivaji Rao and B. Jothi Ramalingam

Some of the plays presented at KFA’s Summer Drama Festival captured family sentiments while others took a dig at the political scene. Kausalya Santhanam

Four plays, four different themes. This was what a random pick by this writer yielded at this year’s Summer Drama festival of the Kartik Fine Arts at the Narada Gana Sabha.

‘Maanbumigu Nandivarman’ written by T.V.Radhakrishnan and presented by the Sowmya Theatre Group was a stinging political satire. The situations and characters were thinly disguised.

In recent times one has not seen a play so cleverly written and so bold in its indictment of politicians and their ways. The much used device of God coming down to earth to participate in the doings of men was employed here in an effective and fresh manner. Concluding that politics is all corrupting and the lucre lure does not escape even divine beings, He leaves the earth a wiser god.

Local relevance

It is a play that has an immediate relevance for those in this State and are familiar with the political events here. Though it was entertaining and well directed, it would have been better if the play had been more broad based Being so close to the bone deprives it of poetic and artistic merit at times.

Good timing in the delivery of lines by Radhakrishnan as Siva and Karur Rangaraj as the freedom fighter gave the play its racy quality.

Gurukulam’s ‘Ammavin Aranmanai’ by Madhava Bhoovaraha Moorthy had a strong message to convey which it did through the elderly protagonist’s long speech at the end.

He spoke of the need to nurture our roots and to foster places of worship which are increasingly getting neglected owing to migration to the cities.

The play was a family drama. The suspense was adroitly built up when the younger son fails to turn up as scheduled. The actors threw themselves into their roles with conviction. Malathi Sampath was especially impressive as the mother — the focal point of the drama. Bhoovaraha Moorthy scored with his speech at the end. R. Jayanthi gave good support as the quick-to-take-offence daughter. But the long conversation, steeped in sentiment, between the younger son and his uncle could have been clipped. The dialogue had a natural flow but the passages of nostalgia were too long. Good direction and a well written script helped sustain interest in the play though it had a laid back quality and was confined to a narrow milieu.

In contrast, Dummies’ Drama’s ‘Vinoda Vidumurai’ written by V. Sreevathson was set in the fast paced urban milieu. It was also a family drama but was rooted in the present.

The play sought to reflect the toll taken on marital ties and parenting when life is led at a frenetic pace. The parents work at a dizzy pace, to the extent they leave messages on the recording system for each other. Their teenage son (Raghavendar) is a mobile phone addict.

The only voice of sanity is that of their daughter. How sense dawns on the couple is brought out. The dialogue scored many hits with the audience.

The actors too played their roles well especially Prema Sadasivam as the image conscious mother and Preethi as her sensible, loving daughter. Sridhar as the busy husband, and Chandru as the grandfather offered good support. Sufficient attention had been paid to the sets and music. It was overall a relevant play, though with some exaggerations, on present day lifestyles and misplaced priorities.

In common with ‘Nandivarman,’ Augusto Creations’ ‘Ranganathan Photo Studio…’ was a work where the reference was thinly disguised. Here it was to a well known shop in the city and some of its doings: a supporting actor even lets the real name slip. The greed and viciousness of the proprietor (R. Raja) of the shop leads to the suspense in the play. He traps a customer and frames her on a charge of theft. The frightened girl (Soundarya) and her fiancée are forced to agree to committing a crime, the murder of the owner of a studio located next to the shop.

Ranganathan (Vel Jaikumar), the studio owner is a cantankerous old man. But he is a courageous one as well as he refuses to be cowed down by threats. He is a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and this is exploited by the couple. But do they succeed in their mission? Suspense was built up quite well at places with the music and lights aiding the action. But the inordinate length of the play stood in the way of its being as effective as it could have been. Unnecessary doses of sentiment too padded the play and brought down its tempo. Soundarya has an expressive face which reflected fear and anxiety well but she overdid the hunted expression.

Raja as the ruthless owner of the store, was menacing and held his accent throughout.

The play fizzled out at the end for the bottling of the evil genie was done too tamely. And as in ‘Nandivarman,’ here too the reference was too blatant. But Augusto, the writer-director, attempts to consistently keep the thriller genre going in the mainstream and he also focuses on a milieu different from the usual one and these need to be appreciated.

Indictment of politicians was bold

Artists impressed with their performances

The festival had a good turnout

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