When I am in and around Nungambakkam, The Alliance Francais(e) pulls me towards itself.There is always some play or a film festival or a book reading session going on there, not to mention, the delicious freshly baked home made chocolate cake available in their canteen. And so,one Saturday, I suddenly found myself inside their little Auditorium.
The play being staged was called 'Madhavi'. The scene being acted was the one in which Madhavi pines for Kovallam(this is a famous Tamil epic), after he has left, never to return(I guess, he is dead).
Madhavi spends her days and nights adorning herself with jewellery expecting Kovallam, to arrive in any instant.Selvi, her maid shares her angst. Kovallam never returns.Madhavi becomes insane.
But,this particular reproduction of the famous epic, was different.
The protagonists, though female characters were enacted by men. The most striking aspect though, were the costumes, the make-up and the props used.
The men were wearing flimsy banjara skirts and weird net stolls on their head. Strange ropes, meshes and ridiculous head bands were used to symbolise the jewellery(Another attempt perhaps to show, how much importance man has always given to material things which are actually quite irrelevant???)
Selvi's cunning expressions and Madhavi's insanity had me engrossed for the whole two hours.The energy and the gusto with which they brought out all the faces of the human persona in front of our eyes, was truely commendable.
It helped that I didn't understand a single word of what was being spoken(except for 'Kaadhal Kaduval':)).
I was able to immerse myself into the more subtler meanings that the director wanted to convey.Like:
1)Selvi as 'Maya' which is always trying to tempt the human mind.
2)Madhavi's angst for Kovallam as man's eternal quest for God(?).
3)Her helplessness in the clutches of Selvi, who makes her dance like a puppet to her tunes, like our own lives?.
4)And finally Madhavi's insanity, after which she doesn't even heed Selvi's calls, showing perhaps how even Maya is defeated in front of destiny, the Divine Plan(?)
An extremely talented performer, dressed like a clown, sat at one side and played the flute and a few drums, the only music, that was used for the entire play.
At one point, the clown who was like an audience, couldn't bear to see Madhavi's suffering anymore and burst out crying.Needless to say, I along with others in the audience, was moved to tears too.
Afterwards, while enjoying the fat slice of chocolate cake,I thought about many things. I even went on to the Moore Market and bought books. More about them, some other day.
Well,Saturday was truely my kind of day! :)
P.S : The scene being enacted was from the famous epic 'Silapadhigaaram'