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Bombay Chanakya’s “Sannidhanam”

The plot lacks punch

SUGANTHY KRISHNAMACHARI

Bombay Chanakya’s Tamil play ‘Sannidhanam’ has nothing new to offer except for some hard-hitting dialogue.

Capable cast: Sannidhanam.

The protagonists of the play ‘Sannidhanam’ (story, dialogue, direction – Bombay Chanakya) find themselves in Dr. Veda’s (Ganapathy) rural retreat. It is not a resort or a commercial venture of any sort. It is a place that is supposed to help people find that elusive thing called ‘mental peace.’

Nithya (Dr. Sharmila), whose avarice overwhelms her affection for her family, is a Nosy Parker, who, through persistent questioning and some clever eavesdropping, manages to put together a biographical sketch of each of the visitors.

They range from rich industrialist Punyakoti (‘Bombay’ Kumar), whose uncaring wife has driven him into the arms of another woman, to Kattayan (Bharath), who works in a crematorium and is trying to come to terms with the death of the only person who ever loved him. 2G – short for Gopalasami Gangadharan (‘Telephone’ Venkatraman) is a wheeler-dealer, and an inveterate name dropper.

The estranged couple Bhavishya (Sangeetha) and Madhyaman (Vishnu Vijayan) have ego clashes that result in the dissolution of their marriage.

The stories of the characters are told in flashback mode. The strict regimen in the retreat includes eschewing the use of cell phones, computers, television and even newspapers.

Soul-searching

The reason is that this disconnect with the outside world might help the inmates do some soul searching. But the pulls of their lives are hard to resist and, except for Kattayan, the rest leave the retreat, albeit a chastened lot.

It seems hard to believe that once they are back to their respective lives, the lessons learnt in isolation will be remembered. Life isn’t easy, and for that reason, there are no pat answers to our problems. There is nothing new in ‘Sannidhanam’, except maybe the candour in the dialogue. The message is trite — we have to find contentment within and not seek it outside.

The play rode on the shoulders of the actors, all of whom slipped into multiple roles in the different flashback sequences with ease.

The excellent performances of Sharmila, Sangeetha and ‘Telephone’ Venkatraman deserve particular mention. Jokes about the 2G scam brought the house down.

But a nagging question remained. Why is it that in Tamil plays and films, good people have a wooden look, just like Dr. Veda in this play? Is goodness somehow synonymous with blandness? The uniform ‘I am bored with life’ expression of the good man/woman in Tamil plays/films grates on one’s nerves.

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