Hindu Review of Mythological plays
Tamil drama had its origins in mythological plays. In course of time, plays with more contemporary themes became popular, and mythologicals were almost forgotten. In recent years, however, a few troupes have tried to resuscitate what seemed to be a lost cause, and have staged mythologicals successfully. One must compliment Brahma Gana Sabha for encouraging these troupes, by organising a ‘series’ of mythological plays.
For the seeker of novelty, these plays don’t have much to offer. They are familiar stories, which we have heard since childhood. And yet it is this familiarity which strikes a chord in us, appealing to the innocent child in us, lurking somewhere.
Tamizharasan Theatre’s play ‘Om Siva Sakti’ was a collection of stories about Siva and Sakti. There was an attempt at special effects, as in their previous play – ‘Narasimhar.’ The fire before which Sakti did penance, was clearly a spill over from their previous play.
Mythological plays offer scope for melodrama. Fortunately, there was no overacting in either of the two plays this writer watched. Even the laugh of the asura, which seems to be de rigueur in all mythological plays, was not too loud. Some of the dialogue in ‘Om Siva Sakti’ had clear references to politicians who come a cropper due to their wheeling and dealing. Arivanandam as Agastya was not a staid sage, but a lively one. But the play itself was far from lively. It limped along tamely and lacked the pep of their earlier play.
Nadaka Kavalar Kalaikoodam’s ‘Tirunavukkarasar,’ on the other hand, was a more professional production, with good acting, good dialogue, good music and comedy a la Tenali Raman. Some of the jokes, however, were old ones. The one about missing files and the bureaucracy reminded one of the ‘Yes Minister’ series.
Before the play began, one was afraid the lead artist would end up doing a poor imitation of Sivaji Ganesan, who played the role of Tirunavukkarasar in the film ‘Tiruvarutchelvar.’ But there was no trace of imitation in Master Sridhar’s performance as Tirunavukkarasar. His acting was the highlight of the play. Although Vasantha made a brief appearance as Thilakavathy, her performance as the fond sister of Tirunavukkarasar, was touching. Thillaimanohari, as the bereaved mother, was more natural than K.R.S. Kumar as Appoodi Adigal. The latter’s sorrow on his son’s death was an affected display. On the whole, the positive aspects outweighed the negative ones, which made viewing an interesting experience.
No actor forgot his/her lines in either of the two plays. Even the children were on cue, and this is worth appreciating, because the dialogue was terse, which would have made learning by rote difficult.