What makes a play great? Is it the depth of the story? Is it the cast? Is it the cost of the ticket? The answer is vague.
Bombay tailors is not your conventional play. Told in a non-linear chronological sequence, it is a collection of emotions ranging from tragedy, humour, romance and mystery. With an ensemble cast, it is expected to be hard for the audience to keep up with the pace of the plot. But the 2.5-hour long tale of Peeru Bhai is anything but incomprehensible. Vinod Kumar tells the story of Peeru Bhai with dexterity and class. Peeru bhai starts out as an enigma, with the audience kept in the dark regarding the protagonist’s past. He is portrayed to be a man fallen from greatness. He is desolate and destitute from a once prosperous pedestal. The rest of the story is told as a recollection of Muthumozhi, the female protagonist’s account of Peeru Bhai.
Over time, the actors through their stellar performances captivated the rapt Malayalee audience of Singapore. Vidyaaraj excels as the fragile old Peeru Bhai filled with desperation and the ambitious and cheerful young Peeru. He switches between a petite old man and a young romantic effortlessly between the scenes. Aishwarya lives and breathes as Muthumozhi, Peeru’s lady love.
Memorable cameos were a definite highlight in the play. The terrorizing Lambhu Bhai (Sooraj) scares and entertains the audience with his uncouth yet loving attitude, garnering praise from a vociferous audience. Jayaram, who plays the handsome terrorist who is a businessman by day, and conniving extremist by night redefines the concept of a suave villain.
The veteran actor D. Sudheeran lends affection and support as Peeru Bhai’s teacher, Elappanashan with an equally graceful presentation by Arya as the wife. Subin and Nannitha carry us to a by gone era through their period performance as Peeru’s scheming parents reminding us of a time of Sathyan and K.R. Vijaya.
Gopukrishnan is a ubiquitous face in most Malayalee dramas in Singapore. The actor’s skill with dialects is often praised. In Bombay tailors, he has taken up the role of Lasser, the son of Peeru’s friend. Torn between helping the weakened Peeru and bridled by his lack of power owing to being just a security guard, Gopukrishnan sizzles with a new dialect and natural innocence
Sanu’s breaking disco dance was a huge surprise for the audience along with Jiby and Renjana. Muralee played the role of the able assistant who is conflicted to leave Peeru at a time of need with great emotional baggage. His ‘70s side-burns were definitely a stand out! The fashion show and disco within the play, were appropriate interludes to the tense long drama. Rajiv played the role of the no nonsense businessman who rejects Peeru Bhai calling him a fossil of the by gone era. I would have to say that his character was the one I hated the most, which implies the actor’s immense capability to enact the despicable villain. Gibu and Binoop assault the poor Peeru Bhai with deft force as good intentioned but rugged cops, enjoying every bit of the action. I do suspect some of the hits may have been full contact. Kudos to Vidyaaraj for bearing through it!
Vinod Kumar has certainly outdone himself with this riveting tale of tears, struggles and the climactic message of hope amidst all desolation. Inspired from the Telugu Short story by Kathir Mohammad, Bombay tailors was aptly celebrated as the grand finale of Singapore Kairalee Kala Nilayam’s 60th Anniversary celebrations!
Photos by Shyam Photography