A Social Play: Engirunthalum


By Eshwar Gokul Venugopal

HOUSTON: On October 3, Bharathi Kalai Mandram hosted Engirunthalum, a social play by Houston Anantha. In spite of the infrastructural damage that delayed the play, Srikanth Venugopalan from BKM and his team succeeded in overcoming the mishap and adhered to the saying “The show must go on.” Engirunthalum is based on Socrates’ quote “He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.” The play opens in a serene locale called pachamalai.  Maruthappan, aka Maruthu, a humble peasant working for landlords Devanai Ammal and Palaniappa Gounder, is loyal to his landlords, friend Gopal aka Kovalu, and his love, Mayilatha. The latter has a constant tiff with Minor Marappa Gounder from Kuniyamuthur, who will bend over backward to seduce Mayilatha with his riches. He takes the advice of his sidekick Sinnarasu for his acts. Maruthu catches the attention of a film director, T.P. Rajalakshmi, from Chennai and gets a life-time opportunity to act in films. Unwilling, yet being convinced by his well-wishers, Maruthu swears to return after one movie; however, gets persuaded to act in tycoon producers Lena-Mena’s production. Meanwhile, Minor plots to conquer Mayilatha by requesting Devanai ammal to be his co-producer and make a movie with Maruthu. Overwhelmed by money and fame, Maruthu, refuses the offer and runs back to Pachamalai to lead a happy and content life with Mayilatha.

The play was wonderfully executed by Anantha’s team. Scenes with Minor and Sinnarasu, played by Kumaran and Suseel were rib-tickling. Meera Srikanth and Natarajan Krishnan as Devanai Ammal and Palaniappa Gounder, portrayed a typical family run by a headstrong woman. Sharmita, precisely depicted a well-educated yet down-to-earth Dhanabagyam, the secretary of Devanai Ammal’s household. Despite the fact that she is raised in the USA, her Tamil diction was up to the mark.  Nandhu Radhakrishnan, played Kovalu, the all-in-all aid of the house and Maruthu’s friend. Gopal Thandavarajan aptly portrayed Maruthu, the lead role of the play, as an innocent farmer and his real life wife Mala Gopal enacted Mayilatha. Mayilatha’s emotional conversation over the phone was touching. The dance sequences of this enthusiastic pair will be remembered for the days to come. The director’s crew played by Viji Raja, Ponni Sivaraman, Gayathri Rao, and Hema Naren represented good chemistry as a team. Other praiseworthy guest roles were played by Sridhar Srinivasan and Karu Manickam as the “Lena-Mena” brothers, Siddharth as Set director Murali, and Sampath Hemadri as Reddy garu, the Telugu film producer. Lavanya Rajagopalan and Divya Unni, made cameo appearance in a dance sequence and enthralled the audience. The technical crew including, Lee & Jerry, Janarthanan, Srividvatha Sridhar, Ganesh Rajamani helped the scenes flow smoothly. Producer Luckmi Pawa displayed the best of her production and also felicitated Dr. Padmini Ranganathan, and Seshadri Kumar for their years of patronage to Tamil Stage Creations. “Engirunthalum”, another feather on Anantha’s cap.