The intention of this blog is only to share the collections. Inadvertently if any file is under copyright, please intimate me so that it can be removed forthwith.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

An autobiography of a middle class man - Chapter 8

M.S.Subbalakshmi, Sadasivam and me(1973)

The activities encouraged by my mother and to some extent by my father has developed a leadership quality in me and that has emerged in my younger days by various activities in the village. Automatically, I was the leader and organiser of many functions in my village. If it is Sivarathri ( the birthday of Lord Siva ) or Srijayanthi ( the birthday of Lord Krishna ), it was me, who organised the sleepless night. {It means no child in Agrahaaram ( the name of the street, where only brahmins lived) will sleep during the night}. We cannot think of any money being pooled to celebrate the whole night with some entertainment. So we used to go to every house to collect rice, jaggery to cook சக்கரை பொங்கல் (rice cooked with jaggery) and oil to burn the lamps. All the housewives in Agrahaaram will liberally contribute and the sleepless night will be celebrated only in my house. My parents never thought this assembly as a disturbance to them. Since these two days will not come during the school vacations, I cannot plan dramas to be enacted. So the night will be filled with songs and indoor games and elder kids teasing the younger kids who could not control their sleep. However, maximum by 1.00 or 2.00 A.M most of us will be fast asleep, and next day being school holiday (they declare holdiay because the kids will not be able to come, because of the sleepless night) we will be discussing who slept first, and who could keep himself/herself awake. The beautiful part will be that every kid will be claiming to the kid who slept early, that he or she did not sleep whole night.

My mother used to involve us very actively during Navaraathri ( Dusseraa) to arrange the toys, and making Cardboard buildings, and welcome boards etc. Big நல்வரவு (Welcome) will be written in big white papers and cut by every letter , and transparent colour sheets will be pasted in the cuttings and small oil lamps will be kept behind each letter for the letters to glow.

A tank permanently constructed in the floor, which will remain closed all the other days except these nine days, will be filled with water and my younger brother will fetch small fishes from the village tank and put them in our tank. This tank will look like a temple tank with steps in all the four sides.

A park will be constructed, by the side of the tank with toy benches placed around the park. If the relevant toys are not availble, it will be made with paper and placed.

I am writing these things, because, even though we were not having the facilities what we are having today, the imagination and enthusiasm were not curtailed. At the age of 12 or 13 I used to construct drama stage with benches borrowed from various houses, and bedsheets collected from every actor's house will be the curtains. I used to be the incharge of story, screen play, dialogue and direction apart from acting as hero. We never had any facility for records, tapes or any other modern equipments to learn the songs and we used to hear the song only once while seeing movies, and they will be rendered in the dramas at appropriate places. My mother never fails to purchase the song book of every movie we see to enable us to memorise the songs. Invariably in all the dramas, the king will ask, the minister, "மந்திரியாரே ! மாதம் மும்மாரி மழை பொழிகிறதா?" (Dear Minister! Is it raining three times in a month?).

In the whole village only one house used to have a petromax ( a lamp with air/gas filled mantle)lamp and the owner will never refuse to lent it to us. Either my father or our servant will light it filling with kerosene and later pumping it with air.

My biggest achivement in the art of drama, was to act as heroine in a drama staged by my uncle, when I was 15 years old, with full settings and make up before an audience of more than thousand villagers in and around our village. My entry to the stage was with myself singing M.L. Vasanthakumari's famous song "கொஞ்சும் புறாவே" "Konjum puraave". which I can never forget. People were anouncing money to me for my acting, (மொய் எழுதுவது)which was a habit in villages.
Even though, I could manage some wonderful shows in Madras city, in 70s with lot of facility and help from experts, these initial training, to conduct shows with constrained facilities to make it successful and appreciable was the foundation, during this period.


No comments: