At the risk of spilling my age, I am going to have to tell you a childhood memory that brings some wonderful nostalgia. Like the smell of warm rain on the grounds I grew up on, the feel of the summer breeze through the mango trees and wafting through the jasmine vines, as we settle down up on the terrace for the night. A radio from next door blasts songs from the 70s that evoked some eloquent romance.
Then there would be the occasional dog yelping at being chased away from an open gate. There were the little boys who would chase an empty tire down the streets, while being yelled by a watchman from another end. A mom would scream for the lights to be switched off, while the lone bachelor would puff at what would be a red end of a cigarette almost like he was sucking his thoughts in as he had no one to share it with, and then there was me, laying down on the makeshift bed of a few thick blankets and a pillow, as I would stare at the dark inky sky dotted with a ton of twinkling stars.
Yes, we lived inside the city and those days, we could see the stars. Wish upon them, found patterns, and built a few simple dreams on them too.
Mom and dad would be deep in their conversation. Ive always enjoyed listening in on their frequent conversations, despite the complaints and the digs. About his work, the next door truants, the relatives, on nostalgic moments, weddings and the fabric that tied us all to each other. Mom loved her movies and TV. She was a first generation migrant from her small town in Andhra to the *big bad city* Madras. She knew only Telugu and managed English to an extent. I remember vividly how she sat in front of our Dyanora b&w TV every evening around 6, with a pencil and book in hand. That’s how she learnt Tamil, with Mr. Nannan Vadiyar.
I actually cant believe I remember him and his benign smile as he taught the swirls and the nuances of the Tamil language, so different from Telugu and Kannada, or anything we ever knew. Mom was hooked, and she quickly graduated to reading posters on the walls, slowly and then lightning speeds as the bus flew past them (buses flew those days, coz the roads were empty! don’t laugh) – that’s where I started and learnt my (still) rudimentary Tamil reading.
So Mom loved her TV. She loved the whole experience of watching TV. The movies, the programs, the songs, the Oliyum Ozhiyum, and the dramas. God, how she loved the dramas! Tamil dramas. Stage plays. Shot in the studio. That’s how I got roped in too, bright and early!
30 minutes of pure drama. Action. No ads. No needless music. No zoom and wait, and then panning out. No double entendres. No making sure the kids are asleep. Not much color. It was hardcore drama. The faces. The emotions. The laughter. The dialogs. The punch lines. The tugging at the heart. The eyes that zoned in and out. The simple plain costumes. The almost tangible next door neighbor feel. The actors looking like someone you would run into at the PTC bus stop, or the train station at Mambalam.
It was life. Simple, plain life. On TV. On stage. On the various Sabhas in T.Nagar in Chennai.
There were the stalwarts who were the heroes who bore the drama on their shoulders. Names that stuck in our minds, like the little glitter that gets stuck in your hair long after a party. YG Mahendra or YGM as he was nicked, Crazy Mohan coz well, apparently he was crazy (ok, I kid), S V. Sekhar, Cho, Kathadi Ramamurthy, Visu are some of the names that come quickly. They were incredible playwrights, comedians and drama artists.
The content, theme, the story and the lines and the impeccable timing with which they delivered their dialogs, and the impromptu lines they made up as they improvised on surprises that can happen ion stage.
Very exciting regardless of how many ever trips the super talented artists make!
Well, he and his troupe are coming to the US with his famed stage play: Paritchaikku Neramachhu. The entire schedule is up here on the organizers website if you want to hop over. The drama was so good that they had made a movie on it, way back in 1985, and the main role is played by the amazing Sivaji Ganesan.
Here’s a Press meet of the drama:
The original script was deep and intense. Without giving too many details, it is about a story of loss and gain, with a wide variety of emotions that cover it all, and ALL ON LIVE STAGE. The main character, the dad is played by YGM and the wife is played by T. S. Anandhi, another veteran drama artiste. Her son plays the son in the drama.
Here’s a review on Hindu, if you have to peek!
I said “was” coz it isn’t anymore! It has been reworked, and there is even a surprise happy ending! This is the new revised script from 2014.
There is sadness and melancholy and the genre would be definitely on the serious side, but the script has such a finesse to it that it weaves humor, and casualness, and positivity into the seriousness of life, so at the end, no one is really sniffing into their Kleenex or feeling heavy and remorseful of life. Instead they are all smiling and happy that they chose to come watch the play.
Don’t believe me? Here check out these reviews from the first show at Franklin, Tennessee
and one more:
As the YGM sir himself said in the video above, the proceeds are also going to some worthy organizations back in India. It always feels good to give back right?
So here are the details! There’s a Facebook event page if you want to check. More than 150 tickets have been sold already (don’t go by the number on the invite, the whole world isn’t on Facebook, not yet!)
Ram Bala Associates (Realtor) is sponsoring the show here in Virginia.
So intrigued and want to spend some time reliving nostalgia, or imbibe some hearty true blue stage drama (the precursor to the modern day celluloid movie?) then come on over!
This Sunday, October 4th, at Mercer Middle School, in Aldie, VA at 5 pm.
Tickets? – Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ram Bala: 703-403-5338 and you are set!
..and yes, DINNER is included in the ticket! (That’s when you meet and speak with the artists, so can it get any better?)