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Comedy amusing in parts

THE TAMIL play, ``Udhyogam Vayasu Lakshanam,'' presented by Dummies Communication at the Narada Gana Sabha recently raised some laughs and made few demands on the viewer.

``Hilarious play from the think tank of Sreevathson,'' said the high-sounding invitation. What one got was a play that was amusing in parts, silly at others, had a dash of pathos and didn't, however, make you look longingly at the exit door as happens so often.

Simple in its delineation, plot and jokes, it reminded you of a college day production of the past except for the end where some philosophical reflection was introduced.

What would be your reaction if you unsuspectingly walked into the office one morning and were told its time for you to retire? Especially if it is your 48th birthday, you have ten more years of service and haven't opted for voluntary retirement?

Ramamoorthy (V. Sridhar), protagonist of ``Udhyogam...'' finds himself in just such a predicament. And writer-director V. Sreevathson develops this theme injecting a bit of humour and pathos into the story.

Ramamoorthy decides not to take the unjust retirement order (which incidentally is traced to a computer error that he carelessly endorses) lying down. He keeps the bad news from his wife Kamala (Girija Subramaniam), and college going daughter Revathy (Saranya) and enlists the help of his wife's cousin Badri (Rahul Barathan), a crazy lawyer, to see that he is reinstated. Badri is thrilled to lay his hands on a case, any case, since his professional record is so abysmal. A number of plans are laid and pursued by the duo, and at last Badri succeeds in producing the evidence which will enable Ramamoorthy to return to his job. The manager (Sreevathson) and Ramamoorthy's colleague and friend Prabhakar (Krishnamoorthy) are happy to have him back. But his own joy at regaining his job is short lived.

The pace of the play was maintained (with the help of dialogue) till the section where the protagonist and the lawyer decided on their strategies. The scenes with the lawyer generated some simple humour but the scenes were prolonged as if the writer was in a fix about how to proceed.

The lawyer was amusing at places but the character was caricatured to the extreme to produce the maximum number of laughs — a case of overkill. The device of irony, of everyone constantly talking at cross purposes, was another instance of overkill. The sets and the acting were good. N. Sridhar especially projected the anxieties of the character well.

Ramamoorthy is upset by his wife and daughter's advice and chidings on the need to read documents carefully but one feels he deserves them. Most Tamil plays have more twists and turns than the writer can handle. ``Udhyogam... " on the other hand flounders in its own simplicity proceeding on a straight line except for the twist at the end.

The play was staged under the auspices of the Nataka Academy.

KAUSALYA SANTHANAM

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