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Collage of Tamil culture

MALATHI RANGARAJAN

The Natyam Trust inaugurated their multimedia presentation `Tamizh' to a very receptive audience recently.



AMALGAMATION: `Tamizh' presented by Madhuvanti and Vineet. PHOTO: R. Shivaji Rao.

Kudos to the concept of The Natyam Trust's latest offering, `Tamizh.' Highlighting Tamil as a culture that allows itself to be influenced by alien elements even as it retains its originality, `Tamizh,' inaugurated at the Music Academy on Sunday last, traced the social, political, literary and religious history of the Tamils through the centuries. Relevant Tamil film numbers from the early days to the present formed the music for the multimedia presentation. Vyjayanthimala Bali and Mrs. Y. G. Parthasarathy lit the traditional lamp.

Conceived by Arun, grandson of actors Gemini Ganesh and Savitri, and choreographed and directed by Madhuvanti Arun, `Tamizh' was presented by Madhuvanti and actor Vineet.

Graceful footwork

The show had the pair dancing to some of the most melodious numbers in Tamil cinema. Projecting the lives of Tamils over the ages, on the big screen, with an English commentary in between the dance items, it threw light on the culture's ability to assimilate progressive ideas that came its way. The footwork of both Madhuvanti and Vineet was an exercise in aesthetics and grace. Vineet's expressions, as seen on the huge screen on stage, and his live dance movements simultaneously, for the `Maattukara Vela' song, spelt novelty.

From Subramanya Bharati, Bharatidasan and Kannadasan and from the compositions of G. Ramanathan and MSV, no salient feature of film music was left out.

Very astutely, Madhuvanti stuck to the lyrics of the songs omitting the background score connecting one stanza with another. That helped the show retain its crispness. Including the `Ra .. Ra ... ' number from `Chandramukhi,' (Vineet and Jyotika had danced together for the song in the film) was a selling point. And beating the constraint of having to use Telugu lyric in `Tamizh,' the two very cleverly danced only to the music and swaras of the song. Also you couldn't but smile at Madhuvanti's expression when she acted out the line, `Tamizhukkum Madhu Endru Paer,' for the melody from `Panchavarnakili.'

The show had its share of humour too, such as in the Chandrababu piece, `Porandhalum ... ', and patriotic fervour in A. R. Rahman's `Tamizha Tamizha ... '

More effort could have gone into the sketches used for the Tamil wedding sequence for the `Annakili' song `Muthu Samba ... ' in particular, and all the visuals in general. They looked too ordinary in an otherwise diligent endeavour. Also the movements for some of the songs lacked variety and so seemed a bit repetitive.

As for the choice of songs, though they were all flawless pieces a few did not lend themselves to much movement as would be expected in a show of this nature. `Kaalamidhu ... ' (from K. S. Goplakrishnan's `Chiththi,') to name one. These aspects can be given a thought before the troupe moves on to their scheduled show in the U. S. in November.

Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetti was a guest of honour of the evening. N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu, another guest of honour, commended the performance. Tamizh culture has a liberal, progressive tradition that celebrates diversity and we should not allow it to turn narrow-minded and insular, he said.

Sudha Mahendra, the emcee, informed the audience that a lot of hard work had gone into the making of `Tamizh.' The sincerity showed.

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