Mannakottai, the Mirage

Set in Changi Airport in Singapore, Mannakottai, a tamil and english play was presented in cosy environs with eclectic sound-scape and multimedia projections at the Information & Cultural Exchange in Parramatta.

It was an honest, refreshing, and comic portrayal of two migrant families, their cultural values and its conflict with reality which often differed from the perceived.

As a part of this year’s Parramasala program, Manakottai was produced by locally based Sydney Nadaka Priya in association with Katrina Douglas of Information & Cultural Exchange. The artists were Jaishree Shankar, N.K.Srinivasan, Vijaykumar Ramamurthy and Ganapathy Ramamurthy, Suchie Vijaykumar and others.

An inter-generational cross cultural odyssey the play provided a humorous take on issues facing indians today. Manakottai explored expectations and experiences of two Tamil families on intersecting journeys – one family migrating to Australia and the other returning to India with their teenage children.

It also portrayed two friends meeting at the airport, who are at crossroads of their lives called ‘retirement’. A time of conflict where one is unsure where one’s duties lay: Is it helping adult children babysit or is it accomplishing one’s ‘bucket list’.

Manakottai, personally, took me back in time when I had freshly arrived to Sydney some decades ago. I could identify with the feeling of what ‘home’ can represent. It was more enjoyable to me as the play was in spoken tamil and English.

The play brought out the cultural nuances of our existence in present times. It also portrayed the techno world teenage children live in, whose life seems incomplete without the constant sharing and updating of social websites.

Taking the audience with them every step of the way, the artists did justice to their roles, as every one in the audience would have seen either themselves or some one they know in the characters portrayed.

The play captured an emotional nerve when the two retired friends discussed where they had ended up in their lives – one friend who has been separated from his spouse for several months (for babysitting duties) and the other heading off to do the very opposite.

I left the theatre with mixed feelings of joy, sadness and a whole lot of other emotions which this simple yet straight forward and humourous play put forth.


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