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Shraddha’s new venture “Vadhavooran”

Toeing a new line

MALATHI RANGARAJAN


IN ACTIVE MODE: The Shraddha team rehearsing for Vaadhavooran.

The genre is very different. After four successful forays with social themes Shraddha, the theatre group, will now traverse religious, mythological and philosophical terrains with ‘Vaadhavooran’ — the play on the creator of ‘Thiruvaachagam,’ Manickavasagar, who hailed from Vaadhavoor.

The play takes off from the point in the legend, where Vaadhavooran is sent by King Varaguna Pandian to buy Arabian horses that were on their way to a port near Madurai, because he is an expert judge of breeds. He is given 49,000 gold coins for the purchase, but on the way he changes his mind and uses the money to renovate the Siva temple at Thirupperundhurai. And Vadhavooran becomes Manickavasagar …

“We juxtapose Vaadhavooran’s inner turmoil and his actions as perceived by the world,” says

G. Krishnamurthy, the art director of Shraddha’s plays till date, who has now conceived this story and directed the play.

‘Vaadhavooran’ should be the costliest of their productions. “It is,” laughs Sivaji Chaturvedi, its executive producer. But Shraddha’s four earlier offerings have been invitee shows. So can they afford an extravagant production? “Thanks to the four quality plays in the past year, we have a strong viewership base. These theatre enthusiasts have now become members of Shraddha. We have 250 of them,” he says.

Categorised as platinum, gold and silver memberships, the annual subscription for two tickets are priced at Rs.3000, 2000 and 1000. Seats will be blocked for the 500 members, spaced out to accommodate 100 each day. “‘Vaadhavooran’ will be staged on February 1, 2, 3 and 4 (7 p.m.). It should work out fine, because we plan to have five shows, including the 3.45 p.m. show on February 4. Also tickets for the 3.45 p.m. show will be available at the venue, viz., Narada Gana Sabha.

“This is a work of fiction but with a strong connect with what we realise is true and what can be plausibly constructed with the clues offered by the verses,” chorus those at the helm.

“Was he blessed by the touch of God that such great verses came from him, is another question we explore.”

Much research has gone into the effort. Aaryan, a well known ad man, is in charge of the script and dialogue. “He’s done a brilliant job of both,” Krishnamurthy commends. Music is a significant segment, naturally. “Our composers Giridharan and Amudhan have worked diligently for a perfect output,” says Krishnamurthy. “Composing took a month and a half, and recording another month.” The team has selected 20 relevant verses from ‘Thiruvaachagam’ and have set them to music. While mentioning ‘Thiruvaachagam’ you can’t help remembering Ilaiyaraja’s score. “The duo’s job is original. A full-fledged orchestra has been used. And we had Ilaiyaraja’s musicians such as Jayacha playing for us,” adds Krishnamurthy.

“The set design for ‘Vaadhavooran’ is by my brother, Ramesh, and the execution part is Mallikarjun Rao’s. Mallikarjun works in movies mostly. Ramesh is bringing in plenty of special effects too. Robotics is being put to good use and we are showing horses as shadow play on stage,” says Krishnamurthy.

And who is the protagonist? “Swaminathan Ganesh. He’s the actor who played the captain of the cricket team in ‘Dhoosra,’ and the young Kathadi Ramamurthy in ‘Madras to Chennai’,” Chaturvedi informs.

Shraddha doesn’t repeat its plays. So catch ‘Vaadhavooran’ next week, because after these five shows he will be gone away forever.

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