St. Thiagaraja - A musical extravaganza

Disclaimer : This is not a review. These are my personal musing moments.

It took me almost 3 days to come out of the brimming bliss. Though I am still in bliss but the overflow have calmed down. I am one of the few fortunate to have watched the play St. Thiagaraja by T. V. Varadarajan and his troupe United Visuals.

United Visuals staged their 89th show in the school auditorium of  Sankara Vidhyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School, East Tambaram on 30th July 2017.  I happened to come to know about the same when I went to the school that morning for another function. I was so excited that I forgot to go into the school to leave my son for the competition rather I called my mom to tell about the same. I just could not believe my eyes that it is been staged in our area. And from that moment, though I concentrated on the program I was attending in the morning, deep in my heart was counting the hours and was definitely excited.

Reached the venue an hour earlier to get seats for myself and my parents in an appropriate place where we could see the entire show without much disturbance. I was so surprised to see someone casually chatting with the lighting and sound crew and it was none other than the hero of the show Mr. Varadarajan. I introduced myself and also told him about the friendship my uncles shared with him. That definitely called for a photograph with him.

Let me take you through the two and a half hour journey that I enjoyed. The journey took us to a different era where we all visualized the life of St. Thiagaraja. It is just not another play, but it is a well scripted, well dialogued and a well-orchestrated play too. The music is composed by Bombay Jayashee and in his thank you speech, Shri. Varadarajan did mention that she spent 6 months to compose the music for this wonderful musical drama. I would say the entire troupe is blessed to be a part of this wonderful play.

Before going into the play, let me talk about the music and singers. Apt singers were chosen to sing every other song and the voice blended pretty well with the music and it was definitely divine to listen to those songs. The sketches that were used through the play were by the famous Cartoonist Shri. Keshav. They merged pretty well with the play and the way it was added at the apt place - WOW nothing more to say about that.

The choice of actors for every character is absolutely perfect. I wish to start from the choice of Rama, Lakshmana, Sita and Hanuman. The eyes and face act perfectly well, the love they show, the spontaneous blessings given to Lakshmana and Hanuman by Rama and Sita everything was perfect and it never ever occurred that they have rehearsed it and they are acting it. I should also mention this one part, when Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman visit Thiagaraja as normal humans, Thiagaraja insists on doing Neivedhyam before they eat. And when Hanuman questions of the difference between Neivehdyam and eating, Rama says, if we eat the food offered to us in this Kaliyug these humans will not offer Neivedhyam to us and the spontaneous act by Hanuman was to gulp down the food that was in his plate. Another moment which I enjoyed the most was when Rama himself called "Ada Rama" and explaining that after moving closer with Thiagarajar's family he too have got into the habit of calling "Ada Rama". Immediately Sita too says "Ada Rama" and Rama gives a stunned look for which Sita moves away with a shy. That was a real beauty.

Next come the brother and sister-in-law couple. Looks like in today's world every other family has such a sister-in-law and a brother who is afraid of his wife but also loves his brother to the core. He cannot stop listening to his wife but at the same time, the way he blessed his brother and his family when they prostrated before leaving the house. This couple also scores high when they feel for grieving Thiagaraja after his wife passes away.

The person who acted the role of Gopala Krishna Barathi did a very good job when he mimed "Sababathiku Veru Deivam". He mimed the entire song pretty well. The same I have to tell about the Hindustani Singer too.

Should have to mention the mother and daughter duo who played the role of wife and daughter of Thiagaraja. There is one saying in Tamil. "Elluna ennaiya nikkara" - That means they did everything that Thiagaraja thought in his mind. It was pretty cute when the daughter asked her dad to sing a song in praise of Sita. The explanation she gave was even cuter. Hats off to Shri. Vesvee. The dialogues were crisp and apt.

There are no words to describe the act by Mr. Varadarajan. He did not act but he lived. He made us laugh, he made us cry, he took us to divinity; overall he made us forget all the worldly things for the entire two and a half hours. (I used the phone only to take pictures and in some scenes I regretted for not capturing it on camera but I did that in my heart).  Every time he have to prostrate to Rama, or to his brother or to his Guru, the way he ties his Angavastram in his hips in a jiffy (something to be learnt by many). I will not just conclude the act by him as just a rehearsed one, he is so blessed and that is the reason he was able to live the life of St. Thiagaraja and also make us live in that era. Not just his face showed the different expressions, but his entire body acted for each and every expression that his face showed a high amount of divinity.

The back stage people who changed the screens, the audio and video technicians and the slide show operator they all should have got memorised every other step of the actors by now and that’s why there was not even a single flaw and as an audience I never felt that someone is changing the backdrop or the props were changed. The screenplay was scripted with a flow that it glowed and gelled well.

No, this is not a review, but some snippets that I am sharing with all, so that that will kindle an interest to watch that play. The play is marching towards its 100th show, wishing its grand success and wishing that it be staged 1000 more times.


Sowmya said…
Excellent comment, Rajmi. You have aptly brought out the feelings after living the Thiyagaraja experience. Yes, it takes days to come out of the blissful experience!