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A satirical glance at superstition

KAUSALYA SANTHANAM

United Visuals' `Vaasthu Vasu' advocates a rational approach to life but subtlety is not its strong point.



SENTIMENTAL: Vaasthu Vasu. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan.

United Visuals' `Vaasthu Vasu,' as the title indicates, is on a topical theme. The play takes a satirical look at blind beliefs whether it is in the principles of Vaasthu or numerology, and advocates a rational approach.

The middle-aged protagonist (`TV' Varadharajen), an ardent adherent of Vaasthu, is inordinately proud of the house he has built in strict accordance with its guidelines. His willingness to implement every new suggestion of its practitioners is watched critically by his sensible father Sadasivam (Binny Ramachandran), and equally sensible but loyal wife Mahalakshmi (Usha).

When Vasu's uncle comes with a statue of the smiling Buddha and bids him follow certain Chinese `beliefs' to bring him luck and ensure that his only sister who is working abroad gets married soon, Vasu gets deeper into superstition. Events in his office take an unwelcome turn and things begin to go downslide rapidly. Vasu desperately tries to mend matters. A vocal witness to these goings-on is the house itself, which is personified.

Swamped in melodrama

Varadharajen generally manages to maintain a balance between pathos and humour in his plays. Here there are a few light touches but the play sinks into sentimentality. Godmen and tantriks are a favourite of Tamil playwrights and they generally go overboard with the depiction of these characters. Once the Vaasthu `expert' (Swayam Prakash) and his assistant enter the picture, the play becomes tedious to watch. Subtlety is certainly not the strong point of the production.

The actors, especially the main ones, perform their parts very well. Ramachandran makes a very credible father while Usha is especially good in the scene where she speaks out for the house and its attributes. Varadharajen is expressive and throws himself into the role. The irony is that a play that calls for moderation and rationality is itself swamped in melodrama. The personification (Ravikumar) of the house, though a novel device, becomes irksome after a point with the jerky head movements. The play has a sensible message to put across but it could have been conveyed in a better manner. Like the lachrymose house, which looks as if it would drown in its own tears, the play too is maudlin, very much following the vogue in Tamil television serials. The title song and the loud music too have touches of the serials though the lighting (`Light' Babu) is good.

Varadharajen's plays generally have a simplicity that make them rather appealing. Here there is a blurring of boundaries between drama and television. The way of introducing the characters by turning the spotlight on them is stale. `Vaasthu Vasu,' written by C.V. Chandramohan and directed by Varadharajen, was presented recently at the Narada Gana Sabha under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts.

The play has a glib ending with loose ends being tied up in a jiffy, even before you could say `Vaasthu.'

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