Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The value and meaning of an autonomous Parampu of Pari

The value and meaning of an autonomous Parampu of Pari
"Pari Padukalam”: An impressionistic note.

“Paari Padukalam”, a one hour and forty minutes stage play produced by the Central University of Pondichery, India was written and directed by Pralayan of Chennai Kalai Kuzu, the renowned theater personality and specialist in Street Theatre
of Tamilnadu, India.

Pralayan’s “Paari Padukalam” (Death of ‘Paari’) the stage play is a timely theatrical work in a period of subjugation and disastrous marginalization of minorities all over the world under the banner of “war against terror” in order to maintain “the sovereignty of State” and its “democratic rule”.

Paari, the king of Parampu is admired for his characteristic of helping the people in need. The play reveals the nature of the historic Parampu and Paari in the post modern context and it rejects the popular notion of Paari’s offering of his chariot to ‘Mullai’ (Jasminum sambac) and sarcastically dismisses it as a hyperbole of an over enthusiast poet because chariot is not be used in hilly areas.

But ‘Paari’ of Parampu is an annoyance or headache to ‘Chera’, Chola’ and ‘Pandiya’ kingdoms. The triple monarchs are famous for their legendary deeds but not for their infamous historic act of exploitation.

‘Paari’ is a challenge to their supremacy over the little rulers who are harnessed under their monarchs by force.

Because Paari did not comply with the demands of the triple monarchs the ‘Chera’, ‘Chola’, and ‘Pandiya” and sustain an environment where people can engage an autonomous life.

This inspired the bards and poets to respond with songs and poems in praise of ‘Paari’ of Parampu.

This kind of situations were forced the triple monarchs of the “World of Thamils” unite to eradicate the so called “evil” in the Chera, Chola, and Pandiya kingdoms and evidently this is the one and only historical and literary evidence where the triple monarchs were united under an umbrella for a “noble cause”.

The play pleasantly and judiciously reveals the layers of issues for the contemporary audience from a historical event.

The questions raised by the dying ‘Paari’ the king of Parampu are intended for the current global politics which thirsts for “democracy” (with blood and death).

At the end of the play ‘Paari’ the king of Parampu in his last breath raises questions towards the bard Kapilar;

Pari: Oh Kapilar, what wrong did I do?
Our land has no fences. Our land has no bunds.
Only the rivers and justice flow
I maintained “In birth all the species are equal” was it wrong?
I maintained “All are equal in the face of justice” is it wrong?
We the tribe of ‘velir’ lived harmoniously with mother earth, is it wrong?
Was it wrong Kapilar?! Is it wrong?!
Was it wrong I listened to the learned and to the elders?!

As responsible civil societies what would be our response to the essence of the play “Paari Padukalam”.

What is the place and role of minorities in a world controlled and ruled by elites of majorities? What are the things that minorities have to look facing the current world order? These are the indispensable questions which were provoked during and after the play.

Are there any options for minorities other than surrendering to the monarchs or be perished?

What’s wrong or what went wrong in Parampu of Paari? Is it wrong that he did not maintain a diplomatic relationship favorable to the monarchs to safeguard his rule?
Or is it wrong to maintain people friendly rule instead?

These are the missed or forgotten or forbidden issues which have to be discussed in the contemporary world of politics.

“Paari Padukalam” simply invokes a question, what is the position of a space like Parampu of ‘Paari’ in the post modern world where differences are to be celebrated and the independence and individuality are to be respected? Is it practically feasible one or an ideal to keep the momentum of the faith in the minds of people?

Why the people are failed to create a people’s friendly world even in the 21st century where the United Nations is at the “center” of the world? Instead get a hold of draconian laws and military might in order to keep the world a peaceful space. Is there any difference between “peace” and “silence” in the contemporary world?

What are the barriers that we have to over come in order to achieve a people friendly world for the humankind in the 21st century?

Why the triple Monarchs disturbed by Parampu of ‘Paari’? Why they kept away their wraths each other and united? What is the psyche of this kind of human relationship?

What made the Parampu of ‘Paari’ as targeted enemy for the triple Monarchs? How are we going to justify the people of Parampu who were fell prey to this act of politics?

The voice of ‘Kapilar’ the bard of the “World of Thamils” is worthy of mention at this point.

Kapilar: Kings, I did not expect this war.
You could avoid this war with ‘Paari’

Kings: He defied our demands! Disobeyed our orders!!
And he declined to offer his daughters as rewards!!!
Only the war will heal the nauseous of ‘Paari’

Kapilar: Kings, the love to live with dignity is nauseous?
But, Oh Kings, there are hundred reasons to avoid this war.

Kings: How? Tell us Kapilar, Tell us one reason.

Kapilar: Chera, Chola, Pandiya and Pari from velir tribe all are Thamil speaking.
They could unite as Thamils Can’t they?

Kings: Oh bard, how dare you equate the high tribes of Chera, Chola
and Pandiya Kings and Pari of the low tribe?!

King: Has Tamil get the power to remove this disparity?

Kapilar: Oh, is this your problem?!
Disaster for tribe… devastation for Tamil tribe…
Good bye Great Kings!

Why the human psyche is fear of “other” and labeled it as “enemy”? How to deconstruct the “enemy” the invention of rulers of the past and present?

Why do rulers panic over “enemies” and construct fortes, security zones, high security zones, bunkers and penetrative and destructive intelligence units, devastating arms and weapons of mass destruction, torture camps, prisons etc.?

What is the human psyche of fearing even imagined aliens and depicting them as monsters and disastrous evils to human kind in creative works like films of Hollywood?

What made the psyche to build defensive and offensive measures in order to safe guard them from “others”, who would be an easy target for branded as “enemy”?

Who else are free from this fear of psychosis? Is this fear psyche the essence of the politics of rule?

Could not Parampu of ‘Paari’ be a lesson for the science of modern politics and psychology of modern rule vis-à-vis the democratic rule as mentioned in the text books, “of the people, by the people, for the people”.

Why have the Thamil social scientists failed to design and produce a model for modern democracies from Parampu of ‘Paari’? Did this not have the weight for a research value or funding value? Or is it discarded as another fantasy from the “World of Thamils”?
The scene depicts the dialogues between the Kings, the Chera, Chola and Pandiya in the middle of the aggressive invasion on Parampu is an excellent piece of creative work which reflects the real faces of the contemporary market ambitious Democratic Super States. The triple kings are busily discussing their shares and opportunities in the conquered Parampu. But the planning and implementation of its reconstruction as in our times is the visibly a missing element.

It’s also interesting to look into the rhetoric of modern cultural politics of Thamils where the powers of triple monarchs are being celebrated and Paari is being celebrated not for his judicious rule but for his philanthropic character. In this regard it has an imminent issue to be discussed in the local context too.

As a theatre art form “Paari Padukalam” is carried into the heart and minds of the audience in a comprehensive manner. The selection of theme and the plotting of story line in variety of moods and styles with simple and thought provoking dialogues; musically flourished and meaningfully nourished songs enriched with lighting synchronized with the tone and meaning of the play had contributed to its aesthetic communicative success.

The mild but forceful dramatization of aggression and war on Parampu excruciate the hearts and minds of the audience. The scene of tired soldiers of occupying army after killing the people of Parampu including children, elders and raping and killing of the women of the ‘velir’ tribe is a penetrative sarcastic and mind blasting depiction.

The characterizations of roles by the actors except ‘Paari’ have to do a lot of work and special attention must be given to the articulation of dialogues and the projection of voice, interactions between characters in order to get the maximum of the play. They are talented singers and dancers and the director has exploited them very well for the effective communication of the play.

Some of the minor characters particularly the character of Chola spy with the dagger that stabbed to death the Chola spy ‘Anthuvansaththan’ played its role perfectly within précise time. It’s a great lesson in theatre practices that playing a role minor or major is not the criterion but to do it perfectly.

I am aware and have faith that the researchers cum artists of the School of Performing Arts, Central University of Pondichery, India has the capacity to realize this goal.

Another interesting and challenging feature of the play is its actor ensemble. Actors are from various states of India and from South Asian Countries. It is a well known fact that producing a play in a particular language with the castes speaking various languages with different cultural backgrounds will pose severe challenges.

The audience response to the play undoubtedly establishes the fact that the actor ensemble is succeeded in its venture. The director and the actor ensemble must be congratulated for the undertaking.

The other aspect which needed attention is music. In order to add momentum to the play the talented and the committed young musician needs guidance for the composition of drama music.

The visual elements particularly the make up and costume also need fine finishing bringing out the characters and blending them with lighting on the stage.
While I appreciate the valiant efforts of Prof. S. Raju, Dean of the Faculty of the School of Performing Arts, Dr. V. Arumuham, Head, Department of Theatre Arts, the staff of the Department of Theatre Arts, Pralayan, the playwright and director of the play and the actors (research scholars cum artist students) of the School of Performing Arts I would like to make an appeal to the troupe as a fellow traveler in the field of theatre arts to work on the shortcomings of the play and travel towards closer to people with your wonderful play needed at this hour.

The presence of Prof. N. Ravindran, an experienced and a ready to share kind of personality with this massive and marvelous group in a mighty effort is a gift in this mission.

Sivagnanam Jeyasankar
Theatre Activist & Theatre Teacher
April 2009

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