‘Pothikkulliloru kathayundu…’(there’s a story in a packet…) the refrain that heightened the element of suspense in the play still remains a haunting melody in my heart even hours after exiting the theatre hall on 6 August 2016. I left with a lot of Amina and a lot more of Pokker in me – enlightened by a truth of life that I had buried somewhere deep in my heart.
‘Kannadi’ a play by Kairali Kalanilayam, presented by Pravasi Express, staged last week in Singapore was a visual treat in all aspects. Not a Malayalam drama enthusiast, I had reservations about being engaged for close to an hour by a dated play. However, not only did the play capture the audience’s heart (mine too), but it was also a revelation of the amount of talent, commitment and passion in the young actors, and supporting crew.
The play subtly conveys the realisation that pure love is innocent. It is the purity of the truth that one sees in a kannadi. Yet, that kannadi becomes tainted when the ‘other’ (it could be a woman, a man, a doubt, a suspicion, a lie or something else), comes into the picture, and it eventually shatters into a thousand pieces. The play uncovers this truth, where the shards of the glass become a microcosm of the world. It becomes everyman’s story. Then we begin to see Amina and Pokker in each one of us.
The success of the play was in the subtle, nuanced characterisation of Pokker and Amina by Saranjith and Aparna supported effectively by the rest of the cast. What came through was the innocence of two souls in love and the purity of their relationship. The typical vadakkan maappila bhasha – the local slang used, the cute mannerisms of Pokkar and the innocent jealously of Amina were heart-warming. Saranjith’s effective use of the stage and the eye-catching stage setting deserve special mention. The viewers were undoubtedly transported to the chantha – the market, in a remote village in the Malabar area.
At the end of the play, I felt like I had travelled through the rough undulating terrain of the village, visited the chantha, traded my goods there, gossiped with the other sellers, met up with Pokker and Amina and finally returned home weary in the evening after a long day at work – and I was content because I was back home with a ‘pothi’, (a packet) of my own.
Review By: Deepa Madan