I am writing after a two month hiatus. Of course, it’s going to be about NUS Tamil Language Society’s Sangae Muzhangu 2017. This isn’t a review. This is a personal recount of some fond memories and the usual thank-you’s and sorry’s. I am gonna jump around here and there. Bear with me.
Please don’t self-sabotage!
Here’s a note to myself. You too can take this advice if you deem it fit. Do not self-sabotage yourself. Do not reject yourself before someone rejects you. It might feel like you have successfully avoided a potential failure and the embarrassment that comes with it. What you don’t realise is that you have also avoided a potential success. I think you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. And if you’re going to give it a shot, might as well go all out. What are you going to lose anyway? Whatever you think you’re going to lose, isn’t even yours. What you see as yours was given to you here. It will disappear into thin air. Stop holding on too tight to them. Obviously, you already knew these(Haven’t you watched the Karnan movie?). But you failed once and you’re letting that stop you from trying again. Know this: just because it happened once doesn’t mean that it will definitely happen again. And so I took a leap of faith. I put aside my anxieties and insecurities stemming from Sangae Muzhangu 2015 auditions and went for the Sangae 2017’s cast auditions. You know what? The unimaginable happened. I got the role that I wanted. That, my kids, is how my Sangae journey began. *Special mention to Suganiah and Priya who told me as it is and gave me that encouragement to go for this.
All about the people!
Getting selected was only half the battle. Juggling Sangae rehearsals and the internship at the same time was intense to say the least. I spent just 4 or 5 hours at home on weekdays. Those hours were spent sleeping. I barely saw my family members’ faces. Thank God for Sundays! It wasn’t easy. What really pushed me through the toughest of times was actually the people. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this cast is a very fresh bunch. This is the first stage acting and/or Sangae Muzhangu experience for a lot of us. I believe that there’s one striking quality about this year’s cast. (Since self-praise is frowned upon, do note that I am talking about the rest of the cast excluding myself.) They are super fun, down-to-earth, and sincere. Each one of them was peculiarly unique. They made me look forward to rehearsals. Even on days where I got scolded, I knew that we were in this together and that kept me going. I would also like to apologise for the times where I was whiny and cranky owing to hunger or lack of sleep. You guys deserve an award for bearing with me. And it wasn’t just the cast. I also met some really nice people from the props, dance, ticketing and technicals teams. I don’t want to go making a list. Sometimes, all it takes to brighten up someone’s day is a smile or a just asking how’s everything going or offering them a bite of chocolate. I am glad that I was blessed with several gems who did that for me.
It wasn’t easy.
One comment that I got too often was that I don’t look like I am acting. It looked too natural and effortless. Maya is Chandralekha and Chandralekha is Maya. That’s far from the truth. I am very different from Maya. The first unmissable difference is that I am about 23 while she’s 35. Haha! Don’t mistake me! I am glad that it looked natural. I want you to know that this wasn’t something that just came easily. There’s something about acting that makes it harder. It isn’t physically strenuous. But it requires a lot of mental work. The dreaded three words, “Get into character”. I listened to Nallathor Veenai, my monologue bgm and talked to myself while walking to get into character. I avoided all human contact to completely commit myself to this. These attempts were usually futile. Towards the end, I think it worked. On the other hand, breaking out of character came easily. There was once I messed up my lines and said shit. I need to stop saying “shit”. The entire cast had to run around the room as a penalty. I remember everyone just did it without complaining. They didn’t guilt-trip me or anything. I think that’s when I felt strongly that we were one strong team. Once again, sorry guys!
Initially, I was an awkward turtle who had a very restricted body language. I didn’t know how to act. I am indebted to four people for helping me out. The first one goes out to director sir, Ganesh who taught us a lot of the basics of method acting and gave us all the freedom to change the dialogues and do what we wanted to with the character. The second one goes to our dear associate director, Sasi who gave us a lot of suggestions and went into the nitty gritty details like how I was putting my hand on Arul’s shoulder. Haha! The last two important people are Indu and Saravanan. They explained the scriptwriter’s vision and even acted out for me. So a big big thank you to y’all!
Popping and locking
I was in Indian dance in primary school and secondary school. But I was mostly doing Dappanguthu(folk dance). Even if I didn’t get selected for cast, I would have been glad to dance for Sarattu Vandi or Local boys. But I got into cast and I had to dance to Kadhal cricket. I have a special talent of irritating choreographers and P.E. teachers. I would turn right when they say left. I would do a full turn where I am supposed to do a half turn. A choreographer once wanted to throw the radio remote at me. So you can see why I was nervous about dancing. I was lucky to have Lishanth and Shiva as the choreographers. They were really cool. They never once said that we were bad. They didn’t scold us either. In fact, they said that we looked “cute”. Haha! That must have been a tough lie to say but thank you for that! Perhaps, that’s why I enjoyed doing the dance and that entire scene so much. In fact, that was my second favourite scene.
Like I said, I was in Indian dance. But I have not performed in front of a big audience. Besides, I was usually hiding at the back. Haha! I also sometimes have the problem of stuttering when I get nervous. One of the reasons I joined the cast was to overcome this issue. Of course, I didn’t tell this to anyone as it could have jeopardized my chances. Oops! Big reveal there! My stage fright was at its peak. I used to get anxious during the initial rehearsals. I am not sure when exactly it happened. But somewhere along the way I did not feel nervous. The feeling was good. Truth be told, my heart wasn’t beating very hard on both the show days. Heck, I can’t even remember much of what happened on stage. But I remember two things distinctly.
“Auntyaaa?” The moment I said this in disbelief, the entire crowd just burst out laughing. And it wasn’t just restrained titters but a nice boff. I learnt that the audience laugh at the most unexpected things. But that moment was special. I could feel the energy. It was such an exhilarating experience. I am doing a bad job at explaining how I felt at that moment. Top of the world. Well, even that doesn’t do justice but I guess you get the idea. This was my most favourite scene. Of course it was! I had a spotlight on me and I really felt for the lines. And oh the bgm!
Love scenes are hard. It was even harder since I already know Arul. He was the President when I was the Treasurer. Haha! An excellent combination, it was! Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I have devoured almost every other English romantic comedy movie. I also love Mani Ratnam and Gautam Vasudev Menon(GVM) movies. I also have an insane crush on GVM(GVM>Suriya) but I will leave that for another post. I really enjoyed doing the Arabian restaurant scene. I loved all that awkwardness in that scene. “Officerkku illaatha akkaraiyaa?” was the hardest. Maya had to put her hand on Raghavan’s lap. It shouldn’t be flirtatious but really casual. My awkward hand! The struggle was real! Haha! I think it went okay because I remember people laughing. More than that, I loved when the audience went ohhhh when Raghavan leaves and I stand there looking at the audience dejectedly. I remember that another reason I wanted to act was because I wanted to make people cry. Okay this is not crying but for them to relate to what I was feeling and go ohh was close enough. Haha! *Also special mention to the excellent calefare in this scene. Thank you to Reuben especially! You did an excellent job dropping the plates and cups. Haha! Perfect timing!
What I hated about acting in Sangae
“Micing-up” is a short process of having to put on the microphones, the battery pack. I hated the securing part where we had to stick tapes and clip it on. I dreaded it. It was especially hard with costume changes. I wish I could just act wearing one costume throughout. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option. I also hated having to wear foundation. It was a growing hatred since my Indian dance days. Okay, it wasn’t that bad. I need to thank the costumes people for making me look good on stage. 😉 And special mention to Haripriya and Kalpana for helping me out with the saree! Thank youuu!
Love and Marriage
This year’s script made me ponder about my own love life(or the lack of it). My decisions. I have kind of given up on love and marriage. Okay not exactly. I do hope some miracle happens and I can get married to GVM or one of his characters(Read: Kaakha Kaakha Suriya). Haha! I am not sure if it’s just me. I do have crushes here and there. But nothing deep. I am fine with not getting married. What’s interesting is that seeing the alumni couples and in one instance hearing them speak to their kids(I wasn’t eavesdropping; I just happened to hear), actually made me wish that I could one day have a cute family like them too.
If you feel like someone is taking a video, they probably are. Abort mission or pose for the camera! Haha! 😛
Through this Sangae, I got to understand myself better. I got to just let go of my inhibitions and go completely crazy. I think I got too comfortable with my cast members. Btw for those asking me why I put tea bags on my eyes, this link might help answer your question.
Can’t touch this
I read the reviews. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you do. The naysayers. You can’t control them. But you can control your response to them. You can choose to ignore them and keeping doing what you’re doing. But of course, you should reflect on your own work and make the neccessary improvements.
Whether or not this Sangae was a success, whether or not it was better than the previous Sangaes, whether or not it’s better than other theatre productions, it just doesn’t matter. Because what do they know. Haha! Oops. Okay no! Wait, what do I know.
Nevertheless, I am super happy to have been part of Sangae Muzhangu 2017. Just as I sometimes refer to some people by the Sangae they were involved in, I am going to be referred to as Sangae 2017 cast. That’s a label that I am going to carry with pride. This is going to be my last Sangae under the limelight. I think I will probably help out in make-up or technicals in 2019. Or I might surprise myself and come back again! 😛 Either way, I am going to make sure I come back to support the crew and shout “Kathi sollu kathari sollu, Sangae Muzhangu”!
Thanks for reading and stay curious! 🙂