I have been part of the regular audience for many of the Indian theatre productions in the Bay Area in the last couple of years. And every time I used to wonder when we would have a full length Malayalam theatrical production. I am not sure why I always thought (and still do) that it was a daunting task. May be because it was never done before. We only had plays that would happen as part of events like Onam and Vishu. And at least I was not aware of a play for which people would take tickets and come. Even when malayalam movies are released, most of them do not run in packed theatre. The trend is changing. But all my doubts were set wrong yesterday evening when the malayalam theatre production Kattukuthira (The Wild Horse) opened to sold out crowd
Sargavedi a group of Malayalam Art and Literary lovers staged the very first Full Length Malayalam play to a jam packed audience in San Jose. It was an Amazing event. And for their inaugural play they selected the Social play Kattukuthira (The Wild Horse) which has been staged in over 1000 stages in Kerala and is one of the very well known plays which was also made into a movie in 1990. The role both on stage and in the silver screen were done by two behemoths of the Malayalam art scene the late Rajan P. Dev and the late Thilakan. Both who have made their respective marks in the Malayali mind. Having such a project as the inaugural one is nothing but being ‘courageous with passion’.
The play is written by another towering personality the late S.L Puram, a trailblazer of the theatre movement in Kerala. The play tells the story of Kochuvava who is driven by his vengeance when his father a poor toddy collector iss hacked to death by the landlords. He grows up to become a ruthless patriarch who amasses wealth and is buying up everything in the village. According to him his final revenge completes only when he makes illicit liquor inside the very same house where his father was killed and burn the house to dust and make a pond there and drink a handful of water from it. The play is all about how he moves towards that final revenge by displacing the two women of that old landlord family who have no one else to go to. He is opposed by his own son and his wife and the relations between all the involved is how the plot unravels.
An extremely popular play in Kerala, the team did a wonderful job bringing to life the story. Speaking to a few people after the play I could see the astonishment in the eyes of every single person. THe admiration to the cast and people behind the scene on how well it was done. The effort into doing this 2.5 hour long play was also evident in every bit of the play. From stage settings to dialogue delivery to the language and tempo.
A part of the proceedings from the profits will be given to help an old Theater artist from Kerala who is in need for financial assistance. This shows the importance of giving back in any form of art.
My special thanks to everyone behind this including but not limited to Raji Menon, Madhu Mukundan, Bindu TG, Vinod Menon, Umesh Narendran, John Kodiyan, Sreejith Sreedharan and others.
I look forward to seeing this play in more stages and more plays to come again. Welcome to a great start and let the wild horse march into stages all over the United States