Chennai January Season performances 
by Lalitha Venkat, Chennai 
Photos: Lalitha Venkat 
January 6, 2004 @ Y G P Auditorium for Bharat Kalachar  

Hasya, a dance theatre production by Indira Kadambi, Chennai   

Bharat Kalachar, Chennai presented Hasya, a dance theatre production conceived and choreographed by Indira Kadambi on January 6, 2004. It was an evening with a difference; it was designed to revive our natural abilities to laugh.  

The announcer T V Ramprasad said, “Life is serious enough, so let us not lock away our laughter and make it even more serious and unbearable. Laughter is your greatest qualification to face life, whether you are laughing at yourself or at life itself. Look around you. There are so many things worthy of laughter – language, culture, environment, society, politics and people, even the gods. Enjoy, but at the same time be alert to catch the truth hidden behind the laughter.”  

The program started with a Pushpanjali followed by a keertanam on Lord Ganesha, described as the son of Shiva and Parvathi, one who rides on a rat and has a snake as his ornament. Indira portrayed Ganesha as a chubby figure with a huge belly, moving with appropriate gait while the lyrics were interspersed with lines like ‘riding a rattu, tying a serpentu’ and ‘having the face of an elephantu!’ The English words blended so well with the original lyrics that only a keen ear could distinguish them.  

The next item was on Lord Shiva and his family problems for not even the gods can escape from the institution of family and the associated tensions. Indira presented a story based on an ancient humorous Sanskrit verse. It was about the jealous quarrels between Shiva’s wives and Shiva’s sons, how a hassled Shiva is driven to drinking poison and in a dramatic finish, Parvathi catches Shiva’s neck to stop the poison from spreading. The characterization came through in the form of the rat and peacock for Ganesha and Muruga, snake and lion for Ganga and Parvathi.  The depiction of the animals and their natural enmities towards each other were good, but a lot of editing is needed to make the narrative more interesting and more understandable.  

The last item was the highlight of this evening of humor. It was presented as an ‘earth report’ by Narada, who was sent to planet earth by Mahavishnu to witness the goings-on. “All characters in the production are fictitious. Any resemblance to the real is purely coincidental,” was the tongue-in-cheek announcement.  

Narada saw the dance of the Africans in their continent, the Hare Krishnas dance to their mantras in America, and the local Chennaites mime their mantras for more money and more material goods. The dance pupil being instructed in highly accented English, the dancer making her stilted announcements and the dancer throwing tantrums on stage had the adults and especially the children in the audience, rolling with laughter. Indira did not spare anyone - the autorickshaw driver fleecing the passenger, the corporate who makes a hasty salute to the deity from the confines of his car as he drives past a temple, as well as the avaricious temple priest were subject to her humorous interpretation.  

The idea for presenting a contemporary theme like this in the form of a dance theater (as she is quick to point out) came to her two years back when she was observing people while waiting to catch a flight in an American airport. Indira proved in her presentation that she has a great flair for comedy.  

The orchestral support for the performance were Vinod on violin, Praveen Kumar on nattuvangam, Ramesh Babu on percussion (mridangam, tabla, chenda and ganjira) and Indira’s husband T V Ramprasad on vocal. The music for the evening was composed by Ramprasad, special effects/dialogues were by Jaya Rao and Akila of Koothu-P-Pattarai and lights by Venkatesh. 

As with every presentation at Bharat Kalachar, Mrs. Y G Parthasarathy summed up the evening with her observations. “I am very happy to see her creativity and imagination. The words were not at all necessary to follow every bit of what was happening right from the mouse to the snake, peacock and lion, from Pillayar to why Shiva had to drink poison and his wives fighting. I also commend the orchestra for their excellent support. The synchronization was perfect. If you do this for school children at their level, they will enjoy it very much because words are not necessary to explain this.”