Took binge watching to a whole new level and completed Rudhra Veenai series in a week's time :) The best part of the lot being, i didnt see the last episode to know the ending, despite the craving urge right from midway onto the series. Yay to that :)
The story by Indira Soundrarajan, made into drama series by Radaan have been on my radar for few years now and thanks to my blog mate and good friend Brags, managed to get hold of the series. For long my complaint against tamil series is that they are in no league to match the thrill element of the english drama series. There are some handful of good comedy series like Flight 171, Ramany vs Ramany but none to match a good suspense thriller till i stumbled on the Marmadesam series. Read in some survey that they've been voted as the best ever tamil series of the 90's. Not sure on the authenticity, but they would definitely worth any such accolades. Marmadesam series where way too ahead of their time for any drama series is my opinion. The way the story line was structured in "Vidaathu karuppu" was awesome to say the least. Split personality as a concept might've been brought to limelight through "Anniyan" movie. But "Vidaathu karuppu" did it much earlier. No wonder the family audience couldn't quite grasp the significance at that time and the series ending was considered half baked by many. Later with more understanding on the subject, the story became a rage. Same goes for "Ragasiyam" series. If i am not mistaken that is the one with Delhi Ganesh and the Shiva Lingams. The cryptic clues and the search and the mystery would keep one glued to seats. I would love to read the books sometime to feel if they are any match for the performances on screen by the actors, every single one of whom have gone on to become leading performers of their own merit. The cast and crew of the Marmadesam series are anyone's envy as they contain the current who-is-who of the tinsel town in their nascent stage.
Coming back to Rudra Veenai. I am not sure if it just the series that i am familiar with that are like that or in general does the author have this as his favorite theme, almost all of them have Shiva and the mysticism around the lord as a recurring theme. Be it Sivamayam or Rudra veenai or Ragasiyam everything has an underlying current of Shiva and siddhargal abound. Rudhra veenai has so many interwoven concepts about it. Like the other series, each episode has two parts. The first half being a running storyline of the past incidents and second half happening in present. At some stage, both the sections begin to mirror each other only to culminate in a grand finale. In between, the life style of the ancient era, with its flaws and fantasies are shown in a beautiful manner. Even the supposedly present day setup of the second half is set in 2002 which itself is more than a decade and a half old. There is an episode in which one of the character excitedly talk about internet and computer and some are seen carrying Nokia bricks (mobile phones). On top of all this is a quest for the elusive and mystical Rudra veena, an instrument, supposedly made by Lord Shiva himself which depicts lady Parvati. There are lot of contradictions within the storyline on whether ladies can play it or not. Since its made by Shiva with the veena representing Parvati, its introduced as something that only males can play. But many of the ladies are shown to be playing it only to be introduced as the blessed ones.
The first half takes places 300 plus years back with one old yatri carrying the veenai across several villages to reach Thodipuram his final destination. Enroute, he uses the magical power of the veenai to cure many illness and even manages to bring back the almost dead. Its this section thats a musician's delight as they mention the raga and its qualities and even have a backstory that has representation of the raga. Its a tribute to our rich heritage and our forgotten past which proudly stamps the knowledge of our creative ancestors and how they were in synch with nature. The reason why the yatri wants to go to Thodipuram, what is there in store of him and what happens 300 years after his visit is told on the second half of each episode. Y.G Mahendiran has the role of his lifetime in this series. With him occupying the majority of storyline till the introduction of the villain element almost three fourths into the series, he is more or less the hero. His magical powers, the all powerful ego and his inherent attitude almost throws doubt on his character whether he could be the villain of the story. Later he does an about turn and becomes all humble once the goddess makes an appearance. The storyline involves rebirths, recurring situations across centuries, traditions that have to be upheld to across lineage and promises made, god s and demi gods fighting against asuras and evil forces, buildings with hidden passages, mysterious wells that transmit the veenai sound all throughout the village and pristine village which depict what was typical village lifestyle till few decades back. You name it you got it.
The best part about the storyline is that it keeps you hooked to it for majority of the series. Except for the end portions which could've been trimmed by a few episodes, probably an attempt at milking TRP's, the pace overall was consistently engaging. Its a storyline that is very relatable to us as localites as against the dishum dishum and boom boom of the english drama series which how much ever may thrill us will never be our story. Rudra veenai as a series showcases our stength in storytelling and proves that we still have so many mysteries and fantasies and action oriented fast paced stories in our own setup which are no lesser than any hollywood studio inspired series. Wish some production company invests in making more such series, especially from our local urban legends and folk lore which are rich in story content. And a request to the production house (Radaan?) which holds the distribution rights for this series. Please do come out with a DVD cut for them. They are bound to be blockbuster hits.