Intriguing Drama “Blind Justice” Draws Support for Udavum Karangal

By Jawahar Malhotra

PEARLAND: As the curtain opened, the first set came into view: an Indian court with the high bench for the judge and dockets for the accused and the witnesses on either side. Two Indian flags and the national tri-lion emblem attached on the wall above the judge completed the scene in all its austerity, but appealing in the stage lights.

As the curtains opened up further, the two other sets – a doctor’s exam room on the left and an attorney’s conference room on the right – came into view to complete the framework within which the story of a corrupt political system that does not allow the truth to come through but throws an innocent doctor into jail for 6 years for well-intentioned deeds that at first appear to be malicious crimes. Though the advocates have proof of his innocence, the politicians taints the witnesses testimony for his own purpose and for their personal enrichment.

All the actors (for a full list, see below) are well-known in the community and though amateurs, they are seasoned veterans of many dramas over the years. Each displayed a wide variety of emotions and mastery in their lines. Alpa Shah was commanding and dignified as the prosecutor; and her opponents Sundy Srinivasan and Ganesh were brilliant in their arguments. Sanchali Basu was appropriately hysterical as the nurse, and Partha business like as the doctor witness, while Gayatri showed grief, vindictiveness, and betrayal as the rape victim.

Rathna and Uma gave good supporting roles, and Bala was amusing as the no-nonsense judge. But the play hinged on the splendid performances of Saranathan as the fearless doctor, and Mahesh as the cunning politician. A special kudo goes to Balaram for a confident portrayal of the boy Ravi, and has, as was noted by the producer, a good future ahead in theater.

Set concept and Design was by Alpa Shah (another co-owner of Indian Summer), and the Set and Ambiance was by Nalini Kannan of Decor One. Lighting, sound and stage management by Partha Krishnaswamy and Vishy; Sound engineered by Joe; front office management by V.K. Dorai, G.V. Krishnan and Malathi Sundhar. Promotional artwork was by Kasiverman in Chennai and promotions concept by Ganesh Raghunandhan. Music and Live Rerecording by well-known Guru violinist, Mahesh Iyer.

 Written by the famous playwright Sujatha, the play was serialized as the popular drama Dr. Narendiranin’s Vinodha Vazhakku in Tamil about the life of a doctor. The play was translated into English by Dr. Saranathan, who plays the doctor’s role on stage, for the purpose of this enactment to reach a larger audience.

 The play was brought to the Houston audience by Rajan Radhakrishnan, who conceived and directed it. Rajan, as he is universally known, is a co-owner of the Indian a Summer restaurant but he is well regraded for his flair and sense of the theatre. He come from a family of theatrical and film background, as his mother was an actress and dad a choreographer. Rajan himself acted in more than 15 south Indian films as a hero and is well versed with every aspect of technology of filmmaking.

The play was produced by Dr. Padmini Ranganathan, an oncologist by profession and well known community leader who has headed various organizations like the Meenakshi Temple Society, Bharathi Kalai Mandram, Tamil Nadu Foundation USA, Daya,and others.

Both Rajan and Padmini have labored for two years to bring this play to audiences and tied it in to supporting UK, which they have been closely associated with for many years. Prior to opening the curtains, a short, well-produced video showed the work of the UK in Chennai and the positive effects its programs have had on many less fortunate children and especially young girls who have been physically and mentally abused and neglected.

The Houston enactment was staged on behalf of Udavum Karangal (Helping Hands), a charity organization in Chennai founded in the 1980s in NSK Nagar and run by Steven Vidyaakar, Mangalore, universally known by his affectionate name Pappa Vidyakar. The drama  publicized two days in advance and brought in a full house of 500 people. Over $100,000 was raised to support UK in Chennai.

Guests of honor were well-known immigration attorney George Willy who spoke glowingly about the outstanding work that UK does to save young girls and other poor people in Chennai and Sanjay Rambadaran, the Board Chairman of METRO, who described how his family has been involved with UK for over 35 years and how he strongly he roots are for supporting the charity.

All the actors are well-known thespians in the Houston community known for their passion in the theatre, and rehearsed their parts for several months. Actors were Dr. Saranathan as Dr. Naren; Sesh Bala as Judge; Sundy Srinivasan as Sr. Advocate Ganesh; Alpa Shah as the Public Prosecutor; Ganesh Raghhunandhan as Junior Advocate Vasanth; Krishnaswamy Parthasarathy (Partha) as Dr. Bala; Rathna Kumar as grandmother; Uma Nagarseth as Mrs. Iyer; Mahesh Shah as Ramlal, the Politician; Sanchali Basu as Nurse Leela; Gayatri Rao as Miss. Manjula; Padma Iyer as Dr. Sharadha; Varsha Vasu as an adopted Daughter; Master Balaram as young boy Ravi.