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!

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