Too amateur for sabha stage
The play presented by the Mumbai troupe was frozen in time.
CLICHéD: A scene from ``Tanjore vs. Palakkad". PHOTO: M. SRINATH.
Tamil theatre troupes and artistes from Mumbai generally receive a warm welcome in Chennai. Theatre artistes who migrate to this city from the happening metro proudly carry the ``Bombay" prefix in their names.
Vashi Fine Arts Society, the latest entrant from Maharashtra, staged its play ``Tanjore vs. Palakkad" at quite a few venues the past week. There was hardly any seat available at the Narada Gana Sabha on June 24 when one reached the hall. This led to a sense of anticipation regarding the quality of the production. No prizes for guessing the theme however. From the first scene, the middle-aged couple, Banu and Bala (also the director of the play), begin their sometimes acrimonious and sometimes bantering championship of their native districts. The wife pauses long enough to bemoan Mrs. Bennet like the single status of her two daughters, Geetha and Raji, and her husband's indifference in seeking alliances for them. Banu's younger sister Prema who enters with her doting husband Kameswaran brings in a few offers for the young women (though the artistes playing the roles could hardly be classified as such).
It comes as a blow to the mother when Geetha declares her intention to follow the example of her smart boss Sudha and remain single. But a family friend brings an eligible man home and both the daughters decide on the course of their lives. The wrangling parents carry on their usual debate...
The theme of getting one's offspring married has been seen times without number in sabha plays. One hoped that a troupe from Maharashtra, which has such a rich tradition of theatre, would bring something fresh to the scene.
But ``Tanjore vs. Palakkad" was frozen in time. When marriages have gone international, it is an anachronism to see minor regional differences being debated with such vehemence.
The acting, except in the case of a couple of artistes, was highly amateur. One has seldom seen such an annoying character as Kameswaran in a play. The too eager manner in which the actors acknowledged their debt to the playwright Revathi Viswanathan (also the secretary of Vashi ) was rather strange. Only the lack of melodrama and the dialogue enabled one to sit through the play.
Such absolutely amateur plays are best staged at local clubs or recreation societies. There hardly seems any need to add to the glut of such themes on the sabha scene by importing troupes which have nothing new or worthwhile to offer.
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