In Kerala, Congress revives its theatre group with adaptation of Basheer’s classic satire

A scene from the play"Mucheettukalikkarante Makal", performed by Sahithi Theatres. Photo: Onmanorama

Kochi: The Congress in Kerala has revived its 'Sahithi Theatres', the party’s drama troupe, after a 15-year hiatus. Sponsored by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC), the group marked its second coming with a stage adaptation of “Mucheettukalikkarante Makal”, the 1951 classic by Malayalam literary great Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.
The play, written by Hemanth Kumar and directed by Rajesh Irulam – both state award winners – was performed at the Pastoral Orientation Centre at Palarivattom here on Wednesday evening before a packed audience.
Sahithi Theatres was formed when Ramesh Chennithala was the KPCC president and it lost steam after a few years. The troupe was rejuvenated based on a decision taken at the Chinthan Shivir, a brainstorming session held by the party leadership in Kozhikode. The formal launch of the play was conducted after it was staged at some places in Kollam and Alappuzha.

Playwright Hemanth Kumar (left) and director Rajesh Irulam (right) with C R Mahesh, MLA. Photo: Onmanorama

Young Congress leader and Karunagappally MLA CR Mahesh has been given the charge of Sahithi Theatres. Mahesh’s father the late CA Rajasekharan and elder brother the late CR Manoj were playwrights.
Asked about choosing Basheer’s short story, which harshly takes on the political class, Mahesh said he had complete faith in writer Hemanth Kumar who chose the story and the party did not interfere in the freedom of the artists.
“There is no other art form which was more influential than plays in modernising our society. The theatre even played a huge role in the formation of a government (the first communist government) in Kerala. It always carries within it the voice of the opposition,” Mahesh told Onmanorama. Mahesh said ‘Mucheettukalikkarante Makal’ has already received several bookings.

A scene from the play"Mucheettukalikkarante Makal", performed by Sahithi Theatres. Photo: Onmanorama

The play was produced for Rs 22 lakh. The All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary KC Venugopal, inaugurated the play. He said the play assumed significance at a time when people live in fear that they might lose their lives if they say or write something critical.

KPCC acting president MM Hassan, MLAs TJ Vinod, Uma Thomas, Mathew Kuzhalnathan, Ernakulam DCC president Muhammad Shiyas, Congress leaders Dominic Presentation, Joseph Vazhakkan, Deepthi Mary Varghese, writer George Joseph, film directors Siby Malayil and Alleppey Ashraf were among the audience.

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