Singapore Kairalee Kala Nilayam has amazed the Singapore audience once again! Manassakshi – A Journey Towards Justice, a full length Malayalam drama, staged on 22 April 2017 at NUS UCC Theatre captivated the audience with a gripping script, sculpted by a brilliant director and convincingly presented by a team of extremely talented artists.

Based on a true incident that shocked Keralites few years ago, the play steers away from sensationalising the motive of a young man blinded by love to questioning today’s societal norms, social conscience and value systems.

Where it could have plunged into a juicy presentation of the gruesome and sensational murder of the lover’s child and mother-in-law by an IT professional, the playwright G Jayakumar subtly scripts it to highlight issues like infidelity, sanctity of relationships and commercialisation of education from the perspectives of the accused man’s father, the accused and his wife.

The true craft of veteran director D Sudheeran, also a poet and playwright, was obvious from how he managed to elicit the best from the extremely talented artists (most of them first timers). The performance by the main protagonist, the father, played by Vidyaaraj was par excellence. His lament to his errant son, ‘As a child, I didn’t narrate to you any wrong stories, yet how did you become such a human being?’ evoked in the audience, pain, grief, fear, helplessness and a multitude of other emotions. His voice modulation, clarity of diction and ease in delivering lengthy dialogues were noteworthy. Hats off to a true actor!

Worth mentioning are the key characters – the accused young man and his wife (played by Gibu and Jithu) and the bold lover and the wronged husband (played by Aishwarya and Krishna). However, the characters who stole my heart were Ammayi (Nannitha) and Ammavan (Rogy). They provided the much applauded comic-relief in an otherwise serious context. Playing a comic role is a risk, and any actor can vouch that. The timing, the control, the delivery and nuanced portrayal of the character was what made Nannitha’s performance a highlight of the play.

The mood and tone throughout the play echoed the poignancy of the theme and it was enhanced beautifully by the background score by Midhun Raj. Impactful indeed!

However, the changeover between the scenes, though done as quickly as possible, distracted the audience and dragged their attention away for a bit.

What made the whole two and a half hours worthwhile for me, personally was that it did not have a predictable soap-operatic conclusion; it went much beyond that.

Kudos to the entire crew of Manassakshi and Singapore Kairalee Kala Nilayam!

On a lighter note: Considering that the majority of the extremely talented actors on stage introduced themselves as IT professionals, it must be believed that, the IT industry does groom profound acting talent! Creativity unleashed!

Review by: Deepa Madan