Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Maya Bazaar: A Veiled View

Surabhi is a traveling drama troupe from Andhra Pardesh, that tours the villages and temples and performs plays, mostly devotional dramas. The most remarkable thing about them is that they are 125 years old. And all on stage and off stage artists, about 50 of them- including kids and women who all perform, are family members. K M Madhusudanan's documentary chronicles the history of Surabhi through the words of its lead actor.

Surabhi was started when a family was invited to perform a puppet show in the house of some influential persons in Surabhi village. Instead of puppet show, they performed a live show of Kichaka Vadha. The play became popular and Surabhi went on to become what it is now. Another peculiarity of Surabhi is that, at a time when ladies never used to come out of theur home, the women acted in plays. Later many women went on to act in movies and shot to fame. The dedication of the artists is what makes this family a succes story. The policy is to act the play even if there is one person as the viewer! There was a case when a pregnant woman delivered on stage during acting...

But the documentary is very superficial. There is a scene in the starting where an artist puts on makeup behind a veil. The feeling after the movie finishes is that the veil is never lifted. Incoherency, slow pace and non- focusing on the human story is also a big let down. Just the history of Surabhi is told and then some feeble attempts to draw parallel between the structure of the play and silent movies of Phalke era is done. No interaction is done with the members other than the lead actor and the covering of events is also very amateurish. If director had attempted to unveil Maaya in the Bazaar, it would have been a worthy watch.


  1. Good post. Entities like Surabhi are rare in India in now.

    Are you a Hitchcock fan? That makes two of us.

  2. Hi Harish, I see that u r a lot into events and art, right? Good to know that! how did u get to know about surabhi group?

  3. @neena: any1 watching movies should be a hitchcock fan.. thanks

    @restless:Ya these days lot of opportunities to watch great works of art..I saw this documentary called Mayabazaar.

    @nona: thank u