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It's different

KAUSALYA SANTHANAM

``Sruti Bedham," enacted with commitment by Krea, an NRI group, was a pleasant surprise.

PHOTO: K. V. SRINIVASAN

PROFESSIONAL APPROACH: Sruti Bedham, a musical drama.

The harmonious weaving of the various elements made this production quite superior to the usual plays presented by the sabhas. ``Sruti Bedham" by Krea group from California is being staged at quite a few venues in the city. The actors were in tune with the spirit of the characters. It was a very well coordinated effort that gave the audience something meaningful to watch, though the theme had an old world air about it. This was a play audiences would have felt comfortable watching as it conjured up a particular milieu — Tamil sabha plays are rooted in nostalgia.

Each member of the cast spoke excellent Tamil, all the more appreciable since this was a NRI troupe. And there was hardly anything amateur about the production which was centred around Carnatic music.

Director Dheepa Ramanujam handled the strong script (writer: Anand Raghav) with understanding and sensitivity. To those tired of seeing the same frayed backdrop, the sets, without ostentatiously speaking of the dollar, were done imaginatively. And exploited the cavernous depth of the stage at the Narada Gana Sabha where the play was staged on July 9.

The space was broken into three. In the middle was the puja room with its predominant picture of Sri Thygaraja to focus on the devotional spirit of music which is the raison d'etre for the play.

The story was woven around the daughter of a famous singer. She feels the trauma of a loss of identity and strives hard to become as well known. There is nothing very novel in the portrayal of the grief of an illegitimate daughter who wants to prove herself and of her father who belatedly realises the wrong he has done her. The play stood because the characters were fully rounded.

Good foil

As the daughter Dheepa, though rather mature for the role, conveyed the rebellion and anguish graphically while Vidya as her dancer-mother provided a good foil with her dignified demeanour. But her obsessive changing of saris was a distraction. Rajeev as the elderly singer lip-synched the songs perfectly. Naveen who played his faithful assistant gave a fine performance. The sets were changed in darkness and stillness, creating long pauses between the scenes. There was nothing to link up the action. The nine-yard sari of the neighbour created a comical effect as it was draped like a Roman toga over her tall figure.

"Sruthi Bedham" was overly long and slow paced. Sharp editing would help tighten the play and accelerate the tempo. It is good, of late, NRI playwrights and troupes are being recognised in Chennai. "Sruthi Bedam" shows they can deliver the goods.

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