Friday, 2 May 2008

AUGUSTO'S PLAY IN APRIL FESTIVAL

Suddenly my social life has perked up – I am in the swim again.

It started early this week with a visit from an e friend and her family, who were in town to do some shopping for a forthcoming wedding. A most delightful time – thank you, Kalyani. A young friend of my newspaper days dropped in the same day and made me promise I would go with her to a movie followed by dinner. The next day we went out to dinner with family friends - it was the lady's 60th birthday. Another lunch appointment on Saturday with the Gangamritham gals – and it becomes a busy week.

And midweek we went to see a play with the unusual title ‘Ranganathan Photo Studio' to which we had received an invitation from playwright-director Augusto. At the staging, at Narada Gana Sabha, theatre personalities like ARS, Kathadi Ramamurthi and T.V.Varadharajan were present. So was movie director S.P. Muthuraman(see photograph). The play was part of the summer festival competition of plays presented under the aegis of Kartik Fine Arts. Augusto has been a winner in many categories in previous festivals.

Augusto’s plays, which he writes and directs, are known for their thrills and chills, and unlike plays which are mere structures for the one-liners of the playwright, there is always a strong story. This was the case with this play, too. A young couple has been inveigled into killing the owner of a photo studio, who has the misfortune of crossing the path of a powerful ‘annachi’. This is the crux. The development of the story to this point and how it works out to a satisfactory denouement makes up the play. The very start is intriguing, with the scene opening on to a nervous young girl (excellent acting throughout by Soundarya) and a middle-aged, tall and powerful looking man in white dhoti and shirt (uniform of the local dada?) who is menacing, and threatening her.(Seen in photograph). A strong performance by K. Raja here, using the colloquial Thirunelveli accent of annachis. In a previous play ‘Unmai Sambhavam’ his portrayal of a police inspector was excellent, I remember.

The effect of an old photo studio was created by use of black and white stills, (provided by R. Saravanan of Malar Stills, who also took the pictures seen on this post) and old cameras. Lighting was used imaginatively to create the effect of a studio. Characterisation was crisp, and the artiste who portrayed Rangnathan looked the devotee he is to the hilt. The dialogue was to the point, and humour came by way of the studio owner’s friend, a retired X-ray technician, whose lines, including comparisons to his occupation to the art of the photographer, raised many laughs. A flashback technique onstage seemed unusual. The social message about caring for aged parents was woven into the plot without being obtrusive. The brisk dance of young Suraj was a light moment in an otherwise thriller play. It was, however, a tad too long - over two hours.

Augusto is an oculist, and his Augusto Opticals is well-known. Why Augusto, I once asked him. “Because I was born in August,” he said. His real name is Purushothaman.

13 comments:

Gardenia said...

An occulist named Augusto because he was born in August, and who writes and directs thriller plays -- boy, this stuff is right out of Salman Rushdie! Too good, Raji!

Gardenia said...

...or did I mean Upamanyu Chatterjee - Augusto is how the Bengalis pronounce 'Agastya'!

Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff. Is Thebrisk an icelandic dance?

Praveen G K said...

Raji Mami,
First of all, I hope you don't mind me calling you a mami :-) I feel it is nicer than addressing you as Ma'am!

My father used to attend these plays regularly with a friend of his every sunday. Of course, they used to praise Kathadi Ramamoorthy a lot!!! I definitely want to see one!!! Maybe when I come to India, I will drop in to your place for the tickets!!!

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Tickets or not, you must definitely drop in when you are here - and please, I would really be happy if you did not call me Ma'am!

Indrani said...

Nice description of Augusto's play. I don't spend much time for such plays. Not that I don't want to, but because of absolute lack of time. I can make out I am missing out a lot. Loved reading and rereading the post. :)

Karthik Narayan said...

I know this comment is totally out of context but while you are swimming out there, might as well find some fish :)

good writeup, one of those that remind you of so many things that you associate with society - the bigwigs and the smallwigs (lol). And then the ones in the middle which don't know which way to go...

Lemme know more about the play.

Kat said...

A simple looking title, developed to such detail.... Was very interesting.

This Marcho, liked it a lot ( I was born in March :-)))

Praveen G K said...

Nice comment, Mr. Kat!!!
:-)

kallu said...

Raji, thank you for beginning your swinging social life with a visit from me:-)You were so warm and welcoming I had to come. The pleasure was absolutely mutual.

Mylapore sounds an interesting place to live in; full of rasikais like you. Otherwise how would all the playwrights survive?

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Thank you everyone, for stopping by and leaving comments.
Augusto just informed me that Soundarya, the lead actress won the Best Actress award at the festival. Vel Jayakumar won the 2nd Best Actor award, and Augusto himself the 2nd Best Director award.

Anonymous said...

English Augusto, indeed!

This blog has everything from Upanayanam Chatter to Upamanyu Chatterjee.

RAJI MUTHUKRISHNAN said...

Thank you , Anonymous. It was not intentional and not entirely my effort, but the comments have enriched the posts, as your observation has.

Sociable