CHENNAI: Ganeshan, through an unfortunate turn of events, gets the uncanny ability of watching murders as they take place. With his clairvoyance, Ganeshan, played by Y G Mahendra in Soppana Vaazhvil, has a learning disability and is catapulted to the hero of law enforcement, for he is now able to help them nab murderers.
Ganeshan’s mother-in-law, his ardent critic, in a scene after he is blessed with telepathy, sings his praises from back-stage, while Mahendra stands in front of a light, with only his silhouette visible to the crowd. Though his face was not visible, it would come as no surprise if YGM held Ganeshan’s expression intact. This dedication to the character is an important reason for the play being as intense as it was.
Soppana Vaazhvil explores the life of mentally slow Ganeshan, who is fed up of being, in his own words, treated like a worm by his friends and co-workers. So, with his new-found psychic powers, he embarks on the path of revenge. Not the pop-culture revenge of murder and gore, but a more subtle form that is rooted in embarrassment, which is what he was put through earlier by his boss and friend. The audience, thanks to detailed characterisation and natural acting, live two ends of Ganeshan’s characters, the pitiable doormat and Mister Sinister which he evolves to be. The breaking of the fourth wall by Mahendra — where he spoke to the audience — was an innovative element that brought the audience closer to the character. Through the speech, which was delivered in a soul-stirring manner, the audience could understand what pushed Ganeshan’s mind to work in such diabolical ways.
The comedy that was peppered throughout the play was of a serious type, though it got several laughs. A range of issues and people, political and non-political, were attacked through ingenious wordplay. From the dangers of sleeping on the platform (Salman Khan), or travelling on the Metro in Chennai (Stalin), to the relationship between Nehru and Mrs Mountbatten, not too many personalities were spared (Not even Subramanian Swamy).
Soppana Vaazhvil is a relief from other stand-and-deliver forms of Tamil theatre. It might not be an edge-of-seat thriller or an out-an-out laugh riot, but it has a little bit of everything, apart from a lot of effort in the acting department. More importantly, the realistic portrayal of Mahendra’s character would make you think twice about of how you would behave towards the many Ganeshans you see in daily life.
Soppana Vaazhvil recently crossed 50 shows, with the show at Bharat Kalachar recently being the 52nd show.