For once, I was going to a play without knowing anything about the storyline. When our friend, writer-director Augusto, called to invite us to his new play being staged at Narada Gana Sabha, I was happy to accept, and asked him the name of the play. ‘Achu Asal’, he said, which literally means ‘perfectly identical.’ And that was all I knew about it.
|A scene from the play|
It was a change to sit back and await developments in the story, which were really quite interesting. At no stage could I guess what was coming next. The story line is briefly this - a dead ringer for a famous actor wins a big amount in a TV show dedicated to spitting images of personalities. This person Ravinder, an MBA from IIM A, uses the money wisely and generously, and unintentionally upstages the star Jitendra, much to the annoyance of the star’s father, a film director of yester years. The father loses no chance to pull down the MBA, but has to give in when he needs Ravinder’s help at a critical stage. He thanks Ravinder for his help and asks him how he can thank him. The scene/play ends crisply with Ravinder requesting him to make movies which carry positive messages to youngsters, showing them the right path. He points out that the goal is the same, but there is a correct path, as against the short cut of crooked path to reach the goal.
As in his other plays, Augusto’s stories are strong, and show a good imagination at work. The suspense is maintained, ensuring the audience’s desire to know more. He uses to full effect his awareness of current affairs, trends in televison programmes, and his knowledge of world cinema.
|A scene at the Library|
The acting was good, and mention must be made of the part-owner of the library where many of the characters meet. K. S. Pazhani raised quite a few laughs with his delivery of the comic lines. The backdrop of the library was pleasing to the eye, and the scenes changed quickly. The muted music was soothing, and unobtrusive. Augusto chose the recorded music himself. S. K. Jayakumaran, the mainstay of most of Augusto’s plays, gave a strong performance as the headstrong and arrogant director. A light and artistic touch was provided by a brief dance (Bharatanayam) by the only actress.
Augusto is a qualified oculist and runs his optical shop in Mylapore. It is sheer passion, without thought of commercial profit, that makes him write and direct a new play every year. “All of us are in it because of our love for the theatre,” he says. The plays are staged first at the Summer drama festival of Kartik Fine Arts. Invariably he picks up a couple of prizes there every year. This one got him the Best Director award, and his son-in-law K. Raja, who acted as Ravinder, the best actor award. His son-in-law is an engineer, and runs his own industry.