A weekend with NalandaWay!
First of all, I need to express my gratitude to Uma for letting me know about NalandaWay and inviting me for their Children’s festival in Chennai – ‘Art, Arattai, Aarpattam’ (AAA from now on).
For those who arent aware; NalandaWay Foundation, supported by the likes of UNICEF, is a registered public charitable trust headquartered in Chennai. The organisation works with children in challenging situations from the poorest districts of India, helping them voice their issues through theatre, visual arts, music, dance, radio and film. NalandaWays AAA is a platform for children and their families to discover new experiences of the arts, to express themselves, to experiment with new ideas, to challenge boundaries, to be inspired, and to have fun together. All funds raised from this event will go towards helping marginalized children express their creativity and become independent and empowered (as taken from their website)
Unfortunately, I could only attend the shows that were conducted last weekend; one was a Korean Musical and the other being a live musical concert conducted by children; finalists of a popular reality show. Both the events were held at Sri Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert hall, which is a part of the Lady Andals school here in Chennai. I must admit, this is one the best halls I have ever been to; its neat and clean, the seats are awesome and the lightings and the acoustics are simply perfect. It clearly shows how Nalandaway plans their events and arranges them meticulously.
Saturday : The Tale of Haruk – A Korean Musical
The show was scheduled at 7pm. I looked at the empty stage and wondered, “Its already 7.15 and it’s a musical they claim; when are they even going to set the instruments on stage”. After a few more minutes, there was an announcement regarding the show. They initially showed a very impressive promo of Nalandaway; first in English and then in Tamil.
The award winning musical was performed by Tuida Group from Korea and its their first show in India. Thanks to Nalandaway, we all got to experience the musical which even had subtitles on its sides.
The musical kick started with one of its casts coming on stage dressed in white. The kids went literally mad seeing him perform some of his goofy antics and a bit of magic here and there. From nowhere (and I really mean that), he picks up a clarinet and starts playing it horribly to evoke laughter. Just then, four other members of the cast , all dressed in white, comes in with their instruments; one with two huge bubble top bottles, two of them with cooking utensils, and another one with a few bottles hanging on the waist. This was more like an introduction to each member and it went pretty well with their performance. All my doubts on the instruments and their placement got its answer 😉
After the introduction, they started the play. The tale of Haruk goes like this – Once upon a time, there lived a lonely old couple; their lonliness and boredom is brilliantly shown by making the old man reading the same newspaper everyday which apparently some traveler had left years ago and the old woman knitting and reknitting the same dress! They go regularly to pray to the Tree Spirit, and during one of their prayers, they receive a call from the spirit. The spirit gifts the couple an egg and asks them to incubate it. It then warns the couple to feed the child only with dew and nothing else. The couple then incubates the egg, which again is shown very creatively, and finally they get their child. The child utters Haruk as the first word and the couple names the child the same. Haruk grows up and keeps saying only one word ‘ Haruk’ ! The couple gradually starts speaking in the Haruks language and keeps using the word ‘Haruk’ in all their sentences replacing words like ‘eat’, ‘sleep’, etc; hilarious scenes they are! The child then grows up and one day demands rice during their dinner. Our heart actually goes to lill Haruk during those scenes where they show Haruk getting fed up eating dew and requesting the couple for rice. After a lot of hesitation, the couple feeds lill Haruk with a spoon of rice and goes to sleep. The next day morning, a huge creature is shown eating whatever it finds; lill Haruk is no more little and has developed into a hungry monster ! The couple is shocked and becomes helpless as they cant afford to satisfy Haruks hunger whatever they had. Haruk leaves home crying for food. The old man and woman blame each other for breaking the promise given to the Tree Spirit. It is shown that Haruk eats everything on its way and becomes as big as the mountain. Haruk then comes across the old couple who are now negligible in size when compared to his. This size difference is creatively shown by two tiny puppets in front of the humongous Haruk. Haruk keeps crying due to hunger and the old couple feels bad for their child. They then offer themselves to Haruk. Haruk is still hunger stricken and is shown to even devour the sun and the moon. But the twist lies in the end; everything inside Haruks stomach remains the same. The final scene shows the old couple inside Haruk, the old man with his old newspaper and the old woman knitting a dress and their argument on who is responsible for Haruks state goes on.
Honestly, I liked the plot of the play only until the part where old couple offers themselves for Haruk to eat because they just cant keep listening to their child cry. Arent all parents like that ? Wouldn’t they go to any extent to keep us happy? But then I guess, the show ended on a happy note only because it was performed for children.
The show received a standing ovation from the audience. I couldn’t; I was holding a camera and trying to capture some pictures 😛 😛 After the show, there was a photo shoot outside the hall with the cast; children were seen excited, shouting ‘Haruk’ and trying to get their pictures captured along with the cast.
Sunday : An evening with Airtel Super Singer Juniors
Super Singer Juniors needs no introduction to the people of Chennai; especially the five contestants – Alka, Roshan, Srikanth, Shravan and Priyanka. The show started with four of them singing one of A.R.Rahmans all time hits, ‘Putham Pudu Bhoomi Vendum’ and not kidding, listening to children singing this particular song gave me goose bumps.
It was our host Shiva Karthikeyans entry soon after the song and he did a great job in keeping the audience in splits with his gags.; however I feel it got repetitive towards the end. Followed by this, we had a performance from Super Singer Juniors most popular contestant, Srikanth, who sprung from somewhere amongst the audience singing the MGR song, ‘Pudiyaa vaanam’. He is one one charmer; I tell you! Later during the event, he went to sing popular hits like ‘Aasai 100’ and ‘Engeyum Eppodum’. However, his best performance was a classical song ‘Paattum Naane’; amazing talent at this young age!
Well if Srikanth was a charmer, we had Shravan singing in style, Priyanka giving her heart and soul to each of her song, Roshan winning our hearts with his humbleness and last but not the least, Alka, the winner of Airtel Super Singer Junior, mesmerizing us with her versatility.
After a couple of melodies and classical numbers by the rest of the junior singers, we were put through a series of dance numbers like ‘Rambampam’, ‘Uppukaruvaadu’, ‘Something Something’, ‘Allegra’ etc. There were school children dancing at the end asking for more ‘kuthu’ songs, especially from ‘Vijay’ movies.
Kudos to NalandaWay for conducting the events this brilliantly. I went in with zero expectations and came out more than a 100% satisfied. Now, I am eagerly looking forward to the events scheduled for the next weekend :
Adventures of the Green Ogre – An English musical. Venue : at Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall
Kuravanji Folk Theatre. Venue : Pitty Thyagaraya Hall, T-Nagar, Chennai
Ali Baba and forty Police – A hilarious Tamil play conducted by the children of NalandaWay – Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao Concert Hall, Harrington Road, Chennai.
Chennaiittes, just a week more left. This is an experiences of a lifetime; don’t miss it !
For more details on the events and the tickets, please visit www.nalandaway.org/aaa2010