By Vish Viswanathan
Tamil drama brings to life realities of migrant families in a lighter vein
How can daily issues of three generations of Indians living in Australia be captured into a comic play? But ‘Namma Kathai’ (Our story) does exactly that. The two hour play presented by the Sydney Nadaga Priya with local talent from Sydney is a light hearted attempt to present ordinary day to day life of Indian caught between the two cultures of Australia and India. Performed at the Castle Hill High School auditorium on March 21, ‘Namma Kathai’ is Sydney Nadga Priya’s eighth play since 2008, and was dedicated to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for its Vedic and Cultural Centre of Australia.
The play has no main story, but three separate parallel tales each depicting true life situations of three generations. Gopal (Murthy Vaideeswaran) and Manju (Uma Sekhar) are a working couple living in Sydney with two teenaged daughters Diya (Meygha Shankar) and Brinda (Sindhu Sharma), born and brought up in Australia and pursuing their academic career. Their parents are not happy about their children getting addicted to ‘Australian culture’ like pop music and sports like soccer. They plan looking for a suitable groom from an Indian background for their eldest daughter Brinda, and have an eye on Srikanth (NK Srinivasan), the tenant living in their granny flat who is very friendly with the family and helps with their household chores.
Pattu Mami (Jayalakshmi Ramanathan) mother-in-law of Gopal is on a bridging visa and she’s not happy about the wait for Australian citizenship, so she looks for every excuse to go back to India. She occupies her time teaching ‘Tamil’ and ‘Indian values’ to young children. She wins acceptance from her grand-daughters by appreciating their way of life, even joining them in a hip hop dance tuned by Brinda into the traditional Aathichudi. Srikanth who has come to Australia as a student and is seeking permanent residency, falls in love with Janvi (Gayathri Srinivasan), who has also has come to Australia for similar reasons. However Janvi’s mother Vatsala (Jaishree Shankar) living at Chennai in India is not aware of this, and wants to look for ‘eligible’ groom, saying there are a few in Australia as well.
As another parallel story, four seniors Ananthu (Balasundar Viswanathan), Sadgopan (Prakash), Vittal Rao (Kannan), and Ramasubbu (Shankar Ramanathan) are visiting Sydney as their children have migrated here. They meet regularly and socially and to keep occupied, they form a Senior Association and take up office bearer positions. They disagree on what should be their annual program.
However, as it is bound to happen in a comedy drama, all dilemmas are resolved and all ends well in each of the stories. The play was commendably performed by all the actors and had some memorably humorous moments that resonated well with the 200 strong audience, as they are typical of the situations that we face living here.
It was a delightful evening of laughter and amusement, thanks to ‘Namma Kathai’!