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Tamil Drama - Maya

Drama lauded by K.Balachander comes to Bay Area

Fremont, CA: MAYA, the Tamil drama written by Bombay Chanakya, arrives in the Bay Area after winning many accolades from artists, directors and the media alike.

The play was first staged in India earlier this year by the playwright’s troupe, Kalamandir, and is being performed in the Bay Area by Krea Creations, founded and propelled by Dheepa Ramanujam and her team of theater enthusiasts.

The shows in India were so well received that the troupe is now planning to stage them through April. The theater critique at Daily Thanthi admits to having the play haunting him even after the curtains were drawn. It is not just the plot. It is the script, direction and acting as well. On script, The Hindu, the leading English daily in Tamil Nadu, India observes that the play succeeds in “keeping off the beaten track by dealing with a subject not tried before, and holds the audience's interest.” Indian Express, yet another leading daily, lauds “the story, screenplay and direction.” Director K.Balachander, has shown tremendous confidence in the Bay Area talent by expressing that he is “sure that this play will prove to be a runaway success.”

And these are only a handful of promising reviews MAYA has received. “We are proud to bring full-fledged Tamil theater to this region. And not just any Tamil play, but one written by Chanakya himself and enthused by doyens including Director Balachander, Artist and Director Visu, Artist Sivakumar, Television anchor Varadarajan and many others,” beams founder Ramanujam with pride.

The Bay Area performance has not only drawn a large audience, as indicated by ticket sales, but is also creating a wave of interest in theater among the Tamil community. “Although we started with great confidence, from Thanimai (Krea artists’ previous full-length play produced by Bay Area Tamil Manram) somewhere along the line, we were getting anxious about involving the community and getting everyone as excited as we were about Tamil plays in general and about MAYA in particular. We are still anxious, but now our anxiety is …can we carry this off without having to turn anyone away,” laughs Naveen Kumar Nathan, the team’s Associate Producer who also heads ticket sales. “Of the two shows planned, evening is almost sold out and matinee is rising up to the challenge,” he adds.

“The more tickets we sell, the happier we are for Udavum Karangal, the nonprofit we support through MAYA. It is not new for us to spend ten dollars for an evening’s entertainment. We are energized by the fact that these people chose us to spend their time – or rather, invest their time with us,” chimes in Rajiv Jayaraman, Assistant Director of Krea Creations.

Asked what is the biggest strength of the group, “people,” said everyone in chorus. “It is reflected not just in the ticket sales but also the number of emails and calls we get each day from people who are willing to help us with the various aspects of the production. If that is the energy level of people who are just initiated into the group, one can imagine the strength and spirit within,” opines Venu Subramaniam, Executive Producer.

“Our team has talent and energy, but the most valuable attribute is dedication,” points out Ramanujam. The preparation for the production began with calls for audition in early November and the play reading was conducted a few weeks later. “Our homework for the holidays was to memorize the script, not just our part, but the entire script, so we absorb the story and our character. Surprisingly we all did it,” says Jeya Ajit recounting what made rehearsals professional once they begun in early January. “Right from the start, we could concentrate on modulations and body language and not what we have to say next,” she recalls.

Ajit, originally from Madurai, is a Bay Area resident for 24 years. During this time she has participated in Tamil Manram activities for six years, playing parts as well as directing plays. She co-founded one of the earliest Tamil programs on radio in the region, thus having the opportunity to host celebrities including Kamal Hassan, M.S. Viswanathan, Venkatraghavan and Udavum Karangal founder. Vidyakar. “That was that life, and this is my next life. I am enjoying this déjà vu like experience working on this production. The team is great fun and at the same time very professional.” Ajit is also Founder and President of a Bay Area company.

Rajan Varadarajan, husband, father, grandfather, entrepreneur and avid golfer, has also directed and acted in plays for over two decades. “I feel as if Dr. Suryaprakash has become one of the 10 different roles I play in my daily life and that IS uncanny….if you do not believe a character can grow on you, try playing a role in MAYA,” reverberates Varadarajan – in Suryaprakash style.

N. Nirmal Kumar manages operations for a network security appliance company during the workweek. A Bay Area resident for over 15 years, he is originally from Kalathur (“No, I have not met Kannamma,” is his standard reply). He is well known in the cultural networks of the region as a member of Pallavi, the light music group. “The plot is very gripping and so are rehearsal sessions,” he comments.

Prabhakaran Vaidya, an Infotech Manager at Apple has lived in San Jose for five years and this is his debut play. “It is a great learning experience, although I do miss some family time,” notes Vaidya, whose pastime otherwise is to nag his children into studying harder. “Between the play and annoying my kids, I hardly find time to continue to read my religious books” he sighs.

Naveen Kumar Nathan, Analyst with Charles Schwab, is the proud father of a brand new baby girl. “The only two big activities in my life now are MAYA and shopping for baby-clothes,” Nathan sums up his life. He played dual roles in Thanimai as uncle and nephew.

Venu Subramaniam describes his workweek job as trouble-shooting of problems created by others. Asked if he extends his expertise into his weekend role too, his response is only to smile. A peek into his computer revealed that every file – .doc, .xls, .pdf, .vsd, .gif, .jpg and many others – all had MAYA in the filename.

Dheepa Ramanujam, director, also plays the title role in MAYA. “We all carry some kind of baggage with us all the time. MAYA is a realistic portrayal of the fears and insecurities we carry around everyday. There is stark contrast between characters and the storyline, needless to say, is strong. It was the ideal choice for us as pioneers in bringing professional Tamil Theater to Bay Area.” Ramanujam has anchored television shows and also acted in renowned Tamil Television serials.

The team also comprises of a production crew that is constantly growing in number. Some key players include Vasanthi Venkataraman and Vinu Srivatsan in lighting effects, Rajiv Jayaraman in sound effects and Priti Jain in web design.

“We hope more and more people will come forward to be part of this family. Krea not only seeks to entertain with quality productions but also identify and foster local talent and thus strengthen Tamil theater in this region and in the entire country,” Subramaniam gives the synopsis of Krea’s Mission Statement.

MAYA is playing in Cubberly Theater, Palo Alto at 2 pm and 5 pm on Sunday March 21, 2004. Tickets are available online at www.SiliconValleyGuru.com. For more information on MAYA or Krea Creations, please visit www.kreacreations.com or call Naveen at (510) 435 5034


Vinu Srivatsan
Email : Editor@IndiaHQ.com

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