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His glory grows with time

Suki Sivam ... witty all the way. — Pic by K. V. Srinivasan

LISTENING TO Suki Sivam is always a delectable treat. More so when the subject of his speech is the revolutionary poet, Subramnya Bharati! The occasion was the annual Bharati Thiruvizha, organised by Vanavil Cultural Centre, at Bharati Illam, Triplicane.

The entire area appeared charged with the fiery energy and optimism of Bharati himself. Frenzied activity and jubilation marked the four-day birthday celebrations of the visionary (December 11-14). Litterateurs and laymen walking in and out of Bharati Illam, the house where Bharati lived, attending the day-long cultural events, as if it were a family function, was a clear indicator of how the man, even after his death more than eight decades ago, remains so dear to so many.

After the Jathi Palakku procession flagged off by Swami Mitrananda and inauguration by the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Rama Mohan Rao, "Taalam Taalam Taalam", directed by ace percussionist T. H. Vinayakram, set the ball rolling. Bharati's high thinking came to the fore in all the shows — dance, music, drama, villupattu and speeches. It was gladdening to note that from the seasoned artiste (Padma Subramanyam and M. Balamuralikrishna, to name a couple) to the aspiring, each took pride in being a part of the celebrations.

Getting back to Sivam's harangue on the topic, "Vedam Pudhumai Sei", he reiterated the point that the Vedas need to be interpreted to suit the times. It was an emboldened speech that seemed inspired by Bharati himself. Touchy issues such as caste and community differences, when taken up for elucidation on a public platform, need to be handled with discretion and diplomacy — a veritable live wire that could explode on your face. Sivam's speech revealed both courage and caution. His witticisms added pep and also drove the message home. Caste, he said, originally was not conceived as one that would be based on the family you are born into but only on the kind of life you lead. " I don't take sides, I am not against any group, but people think I am ... The irony is, some suspect a totally unprejudiced person like me, while they unquestioningly lap up the lopsided theories and biases of many others," he laughed. Shobana Ramesh's "Bharatathil Bharati" was a slick dance presentation of some of the poet's eloquent works. Vijayalakshmi Ramasamy and Vasuki Kannappan, had named their show as Story Discourse (Kadhai Sorpozhivu) and this kindled you curiosity. "Bharathiyarin Paarvai" was their subject. The programme was more a villupattu without the bow. "Bharatiyin Paadhai" was a humour-filled short play by the Thirumalai Road wing of the Padma Seshadri School. Funny but profound concepts and punchy dialogue (Bharati Bhaskar), and enjoyable enactment made the skit worthwhile.

A significant factor of Bharati Thiruvizha that deserves much appreciation was that every item big or small, and every artiste famous or up and coming was given a limited time slot. So, many programmes could be accommodated and several artistes got a chance to go on stage. As for the audience, if a show was mediocre, they did not have to endure it for long and if it was wonderful, it left them yearning for more.


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