Select scenes of K.T. Mohammed’s ‘Ithu Bhumiyanu’ and an ingenious presentation of ‘Chirikkunna Kathi’ were staged to pay homage to the veteran playwright and writer.
Legendary dramatist K.T. Mohammed’s works came alive at Vylloppilli Samskriti Bhavan when artistes from Kalinga Theaters, Kozhikode, presented select scenes from his famous play ‘Ithu Bhoomiyanu’ to a packed audience. With bated b reath the audience watched the play that had unleashed a storm after its debut performance half a century ago.
Like most great works of art, K.T.’s ‘Ithu Bhoomiyanu’ operates on a historical as well as on a contemporary plane. Set in Northern Kerala, the play tells the story of a Muslim family, where a young reformer tries to improve the lives of women in his family and his community. As the plot evolves through the confrontations between the reformers and the traditionalists, the playwright makes his stand clear.
Spirit of the play
Daringly abridged and bracingly paced, the presentation did not sacrifice the spirit and the message of the original play. The confrontation between orthodox conservatism and progressive ideals was powerfully depicted by the trenchant Hajiyar and the educated Khaled, who happen to be neighbours.
The two houses in the play symbolise two different ideologies. Hajiyar hates the thought of any one crossing the boundary between the two houses, especially his children. However, his daughter and his son Hasan Koya, attracted by the revolutionary thoughts and ideals of Khaled, violate that diktat whenever they get the chance. When Hajiyar tries to curb their doubts through brute force and dogmatic beliefs, Khaled entertains them to ask more. The plight of women in a conservative and paternalistic society were essayed effectively by the characters.
The songs, enlivened by the rhythms of Mappila songs, had the audience tuned in to the play. One of the songs ‘Ithu Ibileesinte paniyanu…’ had the audience tapping their feet to the catchy refrain of the number. The North Kerala Muslim dialogues had an earthy feel and lent the play an authentic touch.
Rangoon Rahman excelled as Hajiyar, while Rahman’s daughter Nipuna Rahman exuded charm as Hajiyar’s daughter. Sudhakaran Thikkodi had the audience in stitches as he essayed the role of the Hajiyar’s youngest son.
Earlier, an ingenious presentation of K.T. Mohammed’s story ‘Chirikkunna Kathi,’ welcomed the audience. A narrator read the story to two children while an actor enacted the main character, Mollakka, at one corner of the stage.
Whenever the narration paused, the audience saw the old man reeling in distress and fighting invisible enemies that seemed to haunt him.
Veteran artiste M.A. Dileep’s evocative narration guided the audience through the story of Mollakka who is consumed by his own guilty conscience. It was complemented by the excellent performance of Kannur Vasu who enacted Mollakka.
Alex Vallikkunnam, organiser of the K.T. Mohammed commemoration day and director of ‘Chirikkunna Kathi,’ says: “A legendary theatre doyen like K.T. Mohammed deserves a fitting tribute from the State. This is a small step towards it. We worked a lot to condense the play ‘Ithu Bhoomiyanu’ without losing the spirit of the play.”
Source: The Hindu