Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Of Humans Turning into Nomads of Water

Photo by A.Raja Chidhamparam

How do you 'hear' the present day life of mankind, which is inextricable from the use of plastic, as plastic disposable cups, plastic water bottles and plastic carry bags? A scene in the modern Tamil play Neer Nadodigal ( Water nomads), written and staged by popular playwright Muruga Boopathy,depicted one such 'sample' of our everyday life, as a 'crowd' of human beings tussle to escape from the clutches of plastic bottles which are thrown aplenty on the dimly-lit drama stage. Matching a traditional solo drum beat, when the crowd treads on the heap of bottles, its raspy noise fills the packed hall and narrates the tragic tale of modern man being caught in the snare of plastic.

Neer Nadodigal, which begins after Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi's lyric Manathil Urudhi Vendum.., portrays in a scene, a girl questioning herself of what her tradition,culture and language are. The scene drops a hint at man's alienation from his roots in a modern world, which is known for its great 'developments' in science and technology.

The modern play depicts a number of such social issues effectively, but not through the stereotyped dialogues. Rather, the drama's devices of communication are the actors' strenuous body language, their grave facial expressions and hot sighs.

A bare-bodied man, who seems to be so strong and ungiving, walks upright on the stage. The people, who are apparently under his totalitarian rule, show resistance to his diktat. And the man, symbolizing a dictatorial state and a strait-laced religion, confronts their revolt. The scene ends in the intensity of the land sandwiching the rule and the ruled.

A girl, who looks like a bird or sometimes an animal or sometimes a tree in the woods, is loved by a man. However, a madding crowd opposes their relation and leaves the helpless couple drench in tears of love.

Reminding a scene from the English movie The Ten Commandments, an exodus of people was in search of a land for their survival. Having lost their cultural identity due to several facets of the modern life including developments in science and technology and wars between nations, the helpless humans espy their matriarch, who, at last, resurrects the 'waste land' called earth by her beautiful music.

Produced by Manal Magudi Nataka Nilam, Neer Nadodikal was performed by a team of students from the Drama Club of PSG College of Arts and Science.

The play, each of whose acts reflecting a concept, left the audience spell bound, as it depicted in a scene that all on earth - plants, birds and humans - take the 'form' of water. In a rain-ravaged flood, humans are seen under the blue waters, lamenting over their crimes of annihilating nature.

Now, water takes the form of a woman and 'flows' on the dais. The 'water-filled' drama stage gleams for a while and disappears in the dark.

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