India. Replaced by a Robot

A scene from Oru Robovin Diary. Photo: M. Karunakaran

The problems faced by aging parents, who are left to fend for themselves by their U.S.-settled wards, were highlighted in Chennai Navabharath’s ‘Oru Robovin Diary.

The play was staged as part of Kartik Fine Arts’ Kodai nataka VIzha.

Veteran actor Koothabiran was the anchor, who lived the role of Nataraja Iyer. He capitalised on his real age to execute his role with ease. The sag at times seemed inevitable.

Natarajan’s son Ramkumar (Vignesh Ratnam), daughter-in-law Charukesi (Anuradha Ganesh) and grandson are about to return to the U.S. after their vacation in Chennai. Nataraja Iyer is unable to bear the separation and pleads with his son to stay back, something he has been doing for the past 22 years.

Ramkumar, a software engineer, designs a robot which is programmed to carry out his father’s every command. And the machine does it — preparing coffee, administering medicines or playing songs, it does anything and everything. Ramkumar assures his father that it will make good his absence.

The director N. Rathnam’s effort to enact part of the robot, was praiseworthy. Nowhere did he flounder, either in his mannerism or in dialogue delivery. Rathnam, who takes credit for the story and dialogue as well, packed the scenes with a fair amount of melodrama.

Vignesh Ratnam, as somebody torn between the lure of material comforts and the love for his father, exhibited appropriate expressions. For instance, his anguish when he is informed about the pink slip waiting for him in the U.S. Anuradha Ganesh as the nagging wife, was convincing. T.P. Sreeram as the wise family doctor, who advises Ramkumar about relationships, N. Ganesan as the cook and R. Venkatraghavan as Ramkumar’s greedy father-in-law, did justice to their roles.

Incisive dialogue pepped up the play. Background score by Sanjana and Nikhil had a right mix of peppy tunes and melancholic phrases, and helped. However, one felt making use of the veena, flute and the sitar would have lifted the emotional scenes to greater heights.

One thought on “India. Replaced by a Robot

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