Unarviyam- A Rising Star on the Stage

>“I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”

-Oscar Wilde

In today’s world where technical developments aggravate audience’s demand for perfection, dramatics is indeed a very risky challenge. Without re-takes, editing from multiple shots, digital effects or mesmerising visual lavishness, it is quite unthinkable of delivering something that appeal to today’s viewers. Not to forget, the enormous amount of time and effort consumed from the time of conceiving the idea to scripting the scenes to making the props to rehearsing to perfection and finally performing on various stages. In spite of all these, there are still ardent fans of the theatre who have pledged to revive this traditional art form, and what’s more important is to make it equally appealing and connecting with the audience as films and music.

It was my pleasure to have attended the first stage performance of one such amateur theatre group calledUnarviyam’ last week. An immensely talented bunch of youngsters who performed an indigenous story of an intelligent thief in their mime play called ‘The Looters Looty’.

For a maiden performance, the actors’ confidence and connect with the audience was definitely commendable. The script was very much Chennai-ish with acts referring to day-to-day life in the city. This along with the fluent ease and casualness with which the main characters in the drama (the part of the play that had dialogues) Vatsan Natarajan who plays Fallu the thief (also the director and script writer of the play) and Prashanth Ramaswamy who plays Tiger the cop (also the head of the production unit of the play) handle their respective roles cleared all airs of reservation one might have for a debutant team. To complement them to near perfection, the mummers who played the respective roles Karthik GJ and Lokeshwaran exhibit a grace of movement and acting unparalleled by even professional artists. Their ability to communicate with the audience without a single word uttered definitely invited a great deal of applause.

The music by Muthukumar Anil was apt, with a distinctive ability to keep the audience excited and at the edge of their seats. The story was about an ‘intelligent’ thief who stole for passion. Though a few of the acts were inspired from popular cop-thief films, most of them were originally thought and adapted to suit the story. The character of Fallu the thief in both the drama and the mime were impeccably executed, always unleashing a flood of laughter in the hall. The script went on to tell us how there were almost ten ways of stealing happening in the society, and why Fallu felt that theft was integral at all strata of the society from politicians to tea-stalls. The policeman Tiger (who reminded me of Asrani from Sholay) also shone well among the audience with his repertoire, although the crowd was keener on pulling his legs with meowing sounds than supporting the character’s rationale.

Although thrilling to the deepest extent, there were some places that stood out amateurish in the execution of the play like the stage not being set before curtains went up and in between scenes, the script falling a bit shallow at times and dragging at a few places here and there. Though theatres have been responsible for creating revolutions in the past, I believe that political anecdotes in an apolitical context do not always add flair to the theme. Dragging the DMK and AIADMK, Anna Hazare, price rise etc. in this play I felt went a bit out of context and didn’t serve any purpose whatsoever in creating an impact or impression.

These minor things apart, I must admit it was a rejuvenating experience. In less than ten minutes since its beginning, the play and its cast were successful in making me shed the idea that I was watching a group’s first on stage performance. Unarviyam, the theatre group is undoubtedly here to stay and if they are able to adapt and improvise with every performance you can definitely look forward to a rising star in the otherwise plain night sky, under the light of whose success I’m sure other aspirants will also be motivated to enter the field and thus elevate theatre arts at par with the established art forms in today’s society.

Good luck Unarviyam!

Finding The Perfect IT Dulha

These days, in most of the matrimonial proposals I hear around me the bridegrooms are from the IT industry unlike the olden days when they used to be predominantly employed in banks or the government. So I was wondering how one would go about comparing two people in the IT industry especially in this period of changing beliefs, fresh thoughts and sceptical approach to conventions and traditions.

Everything written herein is intended for unadulterated fun. Any form of inconvenience or displeasure to anyone because of the content is deeply regretted. In other words, NO OFFENCE MEANT TO ANYONE.


[Settings of a common 21st cent. upper middle class house in urban India. Mother, housewife, in her fifties. Daughter, ‘Four years experienced’ IT professional, entering later half of her twenties.

A not-so-costly yet luxurious looking sofa set and an LCD screen television. A manhandled Dell Inspiron laptop lying on the teapoy, along with its accessories. A few papers carelessly spread on the sofa.

Daughter, dressed in summer casuals, sitting with folded legs on the sofa clutching a cushion close to her body. Mother, dressed in cotton saree, poring over some print outs.]


I found these two cases interesting. Vicky and Bunty. Both software developers in good companies.


What about the third guy Ronald?

Waise… doesn’t Ronald sound like a Christian name? How did he get into that list?


Arre… His name is Rohan. Ronald is the name they’ve given him in his BPO. But I had strictly told panditji not to send any BPO CVs. Developer or even Tester phir bhi theeeek hai… (with a tone of compromise, and then sternly) But pucca NO call centre!


Ma… I don’t want a support guy also. They have shifts and all… It’s a big pain…

Mother clearing a few papers away from the sofa. Now holding on to the two sheets in front of her and reading from them.


Vicky works in a captive unit of an American company. Permanent employee of that firm.

He is less likely to be benched or lynched. What say?


Yeah ma, but service me onsite chances are more na? I mean if he gets a good project, he can jump to that company and we can settle abroad right? Waise how old are they?


Bunty is five years. Vicky six and a half. But Bunty has two onsite trips already… Vicky to onsite sirf map pe dekhta raha hai! [Laughing]


Haha… I told na. US or UK? I don’t like going to the US. I want to settle in London. But they are still in recession. That’s the problem. Projects nahi milenge.


[Looking carefully into one of those papers]

Hey look, Vicky is applying for lead roles in other companies. He might become manager soon… Then it becomes a very good case to proceed. Hain na?


Check who has jumped more number of companies? More companies, more salary and less likely to have had any strong love affair! [Laughing]


Both in their third firm… Equally good if you ask me. Kya kare?

Mother, rearranging the papers on the sofa and sipping from her glass of coke. Reality show running on the television, obviously on mute.

Daughter picking up the laptop.


Let’s match some horoscopes ma. [Logs in to facebook]


How? I don’t have their horoscopes. And who believes in them anyway. Sab kuch to computer manipulated hai


This is 21st century horoscope. More accurate than your previous generation ones. Hehe…

Let’s see… Vicky and me… See friendship… We have thirteen mutual friends… We both like Eminem, Pink Floyd, A R Rahman… We support Mumbai Indians… He likes NIIT? Must be some nerdy certifications guy… Hmmm… On the whole five out of ten… just ME.


What’s ME? And Bunty?


That’s the annual ratings ma… It means ‘meets expectations’.

Yeah… Here we go with Bunty. We’ve got ten mutual friends… Both like photography… Again AR Rahman… Aamir Khan… We like similar series… Both play Farmville… Hmm… Interesting. He likes cooking! Wow! Thats definite brownie points for you… And ye blog bhi karta hai? Not bad… He gets seven on ten… Exceeds expectations for sure…

Aakhir blogger hai! He’ll survive somehow… At least he has something else also, besides me, to drain out his frustrations! Haha…

Selected for appraisal… Chalo, isi ko pataathi hoon ab! I always hated arranged marriages!

File dot close…

A play about Death- Review

Has the loss of your loved one ever made you want to come face to face with death so that you can tear it apart? Or have you ever felt that you are just another character in a pre written play called life that ends with your death?

These are the two aspects that stand out in ‘A play about Death’ written by Thomas Manuel and Visvak Reddy that was staged at Alliance Francaise, Chennai over this weekend. The play was directed by Harish Aditya.

The play begins with a monologue by the character Peter. He describes himself as a playwright who wrote a play on death but before he could stage it, the lead character dies in an accident and hence has to abandon the plan. His role is central to understanding the concept of death described in the play.

Death, he says first, is nothing but a random unpredictable incident in everyone’s life. At a later point in the play, he debates with a fellow character Ralph whether death itself is the only proof of a real life?

Ralph is the other main character in the play whose role is central to the concept of life itself as a play. His argument with Peter on the differences in the life of a ‘real person’ and a ‘fictional character’ is both hilarious as well as thought provoking. Together they define the traits that distinguish a character from real person, while conveying the message that after all, we could all be characters in a play pre-written and directed by someone (you can say, God).

Emphasising on the concept that a character knows only that what his creator wants him to know, they also joke on man’s losing battle with information overload (his inability to know even the facts that directly concern him) and the distinction between friends and ‘facebook friends’. End of the play, they conclude, is death for the character.

A beautifully conceptualised and executed play by a bunch of post-teenagers, ‘A play about Death’ is indeed a hope for the bright future of Indian theatrics. The actors were brilliant. In particular, the guy who played Gordon, the common man. His natural yet humorous portrayal of the characters deserves special mention. The actor who played Ralph was emphatic to say the least, while the actions and dialogue rendition of the guy who played Peter were impeccable.

All in all, a well spent hour and a half. Must watch if you are interested in some satirical comedy on an abstract topic like death, that camouflages its philosophical message to be visible only to its seeker.


[I have consciously refrained from naming the actors here because I fear that I might mix up their names and roles. If someone can give me the correct mapping, it’d be great! 🙂 ]

My Meeting with Mr.T

Mr. T is not a most wanted gangster or a high profile businessman as some of you would have thought. Far from it, he is a school going kid. A true millenium kid, to me Mr.T represents the generation of children who are fed on cell phones, computer games and countless other gadgets since birth. And probably because of such an upbringing, I do not see much difference in the levels of our awareness. Hence I prefer to consider him as equal and that is why the ‘Mr.’ part that I added to the kid’s name is important.

This is how the conversation went. The way it went, I had an irresistable temptation to blog about it and by the end of the post I am sure you will know why.

Mr. T : Hey! I am ______

Me : [A little startled by the kid’s boldness to initiate the conversation in no time] Hi dude…

Mr. T : Are you on facebook?

Me : [Now definitely shocked] Umm… Yeah! (followed by a ‘So?’ expression)

Mr. T : Will you add me on facebook?

Me : Umm.. Yeah sure .. Why not!

Mr. T : Whats your name on facebook?

[I tried to ignore that one, to go easy on ‘facebook’. I prefer to keep my facebook activities very much restricted to close friends. But… ]

Mr. T : Whats your name on facebook?

Me : Uh? [followed by a ‘talking to me?’ expression] H-N-S-H-Y-A-M hnshyam

[Following this, I went into my ‘I am thinking’ facial expression. I do this whenever I want to avoid some conversation. But this time it was more to relieving me from the shock of this conversation I was having with a ten year old kid]

Mr. T : What’s the full form of HN?

Me : (This is one question I have learnt to conveniently evade in the last twenty two years, simply because it calls for further explanations. So…) Umm.. Nothing dude.. Its a single thing.

Mr. T : Really? You are joking…. Right?

Me : [smile] (and thankfully, the topic was changed)

Mr. T : You have a computer?

Me : Yeah, of course!

Mr. T : Can I use it?

Me : Sure. Come with me, let’s go to my room.

In my room,

Mr. T : Oh, so you have this small laptop?

Me : Yeah, its called a netbook.

Mr. T : Let me add you on facebook. Whats your name you said?

Since my profile was already logged in, I did the honours myself. And he promptly logged into his id and accepted my friend request.

Mr. T : You know my bro has got a new tattoo on his hand! You want to see?

Me : [Startled again] Umm.. Yeah.. Sure.

Mr. T : (While loading his brother’s facebook profile) You know, all his friends wanted to get his profile pic clicked with his new girlfriend. But he smartly avoided it.

Me : (Girlfriend!! WTF? Oh Btw his bro has just joined undergraduation) Umm.. Yeah? That was smart of him…

Mr. T : All his friends have girlfriends. You don’t have a girlfriend?

Me : (Now this is terribly embarrasing, everytime!) No dude… I don’t.

Mr. T : Oh… I see.

Me : [Relieved for not being asked ‘Why?’, and amazed by Mr.T ‘s maturity or thoughtfulness you may say!]

Mr. T : BTW you know I joined facebook only last week and I have 114 friends. How many ‘likes’ do you have?

Me : How many ‘what’ ?

Mr. T : (pardoning my ignorance) You know, my brother does dissection in his college. The other day they dissected a frog, and all the intestine were out but the heart was still beating!

Me : [Surprised to see this amount of science knowledge in a ten year old] Yeah? I dropped biology way back in class 11 dude. So I never had a chance to do any such thing.

Mr. T : (Hardly interested in my reply. Now showing me some of his brother’s pics) You see this boy in this pic?

Me : Yeah.

Mr. T : His mother died. She was only 56, you know?

Me : Oh is it, thats sad… (Not expecting knowledge of any further detail from the kid, and also not feeling it right to quiz him on such a topic. But…)

Mr. T : Apparently she was sleeping in the back seat when the accident occured and the balloon (air bag) came only in the front seats. So when they finally tried to wake his mom up, she did not get up! She had died by that time.

Me : (Now, literally lost for words) Hmmm…. I see.

We moved to the living room, where his mom was talking to my parents.

Mr. T : [Looking at my phone] So you have a blackberry eh?

Me : Yeah.

Mr. T : [Turning to his mom ] Hey mom, the model of your phone is popular. See even he has a similar blackberry.

Me : [Shocked again. The first time I learnt about Blackberry phones was barely a few years ago. Here is a ten year kid discussing Blackberry phones with his mom! ]

Mr. T : You don’t have games on you comp? What do you do with it?

Me : [Smiling in an effort to hide my mixed emotions at this strange question] I work Mr.T. So I have something or the other official to do all the time.

Mr. T : [Giving me a ‘what a loser’ look. Now looking at the golf club in my house] So who goes for golf coaching here?

Me : Golf ‘what’?Err… No, no one does. I play around inside the house, sometimes. Haven’t gone for any training and all.

Mr. T : Oh… [Browsing through the television channels] Did you watch any tamil movie off late?

Me : Yeah, I watched Enthiran.

Mr. T : Oh.. I watched Manmathan Anbu! Enthiran was long back, right?

Me : Yeah… I guess.

By this time, Mr. T’s mother had decided that it was time for them to leave. And in matter of no time, Mr.T got himself ready to leave and he was ready at the door.

Mr. T : Ok dude… Tata! Take Care.

Me : [Now quite use to think of Mr.T as any other friend from college or work] Yep mate! You too…

Mr. T : Hey, is there any sports shop around here?

Me : Yeah, there is one right down this road.

Mr. T : Oh.. k!

I saw Mr.T off from my balcony, as he got into his Manza car with his mother and they drove down the road.

As their car disappeared from my sight, I thought for a second about myself as a ten year old. I still remember the excitement of my visit to a McD (near Andheri station) to have a burger and softy, and getting my first email id ‘@usa.net’ (I don’t know how many of you remember it, but it was a craze in those days to have a usa.net email address). Those were probably the biggest things in my life until then, besides a few flight trips and eating American Choupsuey in a chinese restaurant! That was the extent of my exposure.

I looked at the calendar hanging on the wall. It said ‘January 2011’, and don’t know why everything seemed to feel perfectly in place then.

I heard someone tell me, “Its just normal man; 21st century kid afterall! ”

I smiled to myself affirmatively and walked into my room.