O.V. Vijayan's masterpiece ‘Khasakkintte Itihasam' was adapted on stage by TAP Natakavedi, Palakkad.

Ever since it was published in 1969, there have been many attempts to turn O.V. Vijayan's masterpiece ‘Khasakkintte Itihasam' into a film or a play but in vain.

Filmmaker Shyamaprasad, for example, had approached Vijayan himself for the rights to make a film based on the novel.

Two years ago, actor Mohanlal enacted Allappicha Mollacka, a character in the novel on stage. Given this fact, the recent staging of an adaptation of this novel by TAP Natakavedi was a notable attempt. Among the audience at the Palakkad Municipal Town Hall were many who were familiar with ‘Khasak…' and a few of them were disappointed by the visualisation of the master narrator's characters.

Endearing characters

Perhaps this is because Vijayan has left ample room for readers to make their own interpretation of the characters. Though the novel had no straight narrative, the peculiar manner in which characters like Appukkili were portrayed by the author endears them to readers.

For the same reason, it was a tough task as far as the selection of artistes was concerned. The newly revived theatre troupe could not afford roping in big names in film or theatre for the lead roles. Therefore, scriptwriter Kalidas Puthumana picked a few from among the members of TAP itself.

Director B.S. Sreekandan was initially apprehensive whether they could deliver as he had in mind some others for certain roles. Eventually, Das Mattumanta as Ravi, Sugunan Azhikode as Sivaraman Nair, Sainuddheen Mundakkayam as Kaliyar, V. Raveendran as Madhavan Nair and Cheramangalam Chamunni as Allappicha Mollacka, however, could bring out their best.

The director believes it was their long years of experience on the stage that made the staging of ‘Khasak...' a success.

Shamja Rajendran, who has donned varied roles as a child artiste in a slew of films including ‘Vaasthavam' and ‘Pulliman,' excelled as Kunjamina. The paradoxical character of Appukilli, often a difficult one to cast, was handled reasonably well by Sekharipuram Madhavan.

Having seen the tape of the drama, which was an hour and forty-five minutes long, it appeared that it had a combination of elements of both traditional and modern theatre. Says Das Mattumanta: “TAP's new lease of life started with ‘Padanilam,' scripted by Ibrahim Vengara. ‘Khasak...' is our second play. We could improve upon techniques greatly, this time around.”

As in the novel, the play begins with Ravi's arrival at the mythical village of Khasak to start a school. Kalidas' script included the dialogues that Vijayan had written in the typical Malayalam brogue of rural east Palakkad. Altogether there were 24 scenes. Director Sreekandan subjected the novel to some minor alterations.

Ravi's death

Some characters were dropped and a few others added. “It was not feasible for us to present all of Vijayan's characters' encounters,” explains Sreekandan. Like in the novel, the play ends with the death of Ravi. However, the director showed great ingenuity in conveying that particular scene in a rather symbolic manner.

That TAP is introducing school and college students into theatre, was evident from the manner in which students portrayed characters such as Maimuna and Abida.