08 May, 2014
“OruRobovin Diary” The title was itself attractive and the announcement before the beginning of the play made the audience sit up. “It is the same voice I have heard so many times on radio as a little girl,” exclaimed a sixty year old housewife, a regular drama buff.
It was the voice of Koothabiran, octogenarian whose youthful voice belied his age and energy on stage was a lesson to younger artistes. He played the role ofNatrajIyer, an old father who lives alone in Chennai while his son and family are fortune seeking in the US. Like so many households his home resembles an old age home where he is the only inmate. His pleas to his son and daughter in law to come back to India falls on deaf ears. His son though is in a dilemma and to appease his anxiety about his father’s loneliness he gifts him a life size robot. The robot is programmed to obey commands and help around the house.
After initial communication hassles, NatrajIyer gets accustomed to the robot but still keeps appealing to his son to come back. The son too gets a chance of official posting at Chennai.
The episodes of Robot and the old man allow for some comic relief. True to life acting by Koothabiran was well received by an appreciative audience. His ability to sneak in snide remarks was applauded by many. He becomes attached to the robot unwilling to part with it.
Some in the audience empathized with the Robot for the heat he would have felt in the hot summer while wearing a glittering thermo ware costume. There were calls for seeing his face in the end. The actor carried the role of the robot to finesse.
The message was that loneliness is not always pleasant. Particularly for the aged who yearn for some company. Finally the old father appeals in general to all non- resident sons and daughter to come back to their parents and motherland.
Story, dialogues and direction by N Rathnam was crisp and neat. The title though novel left one wondering as to where is the diary of the robot. It was all about the father!