Personality Actor-director Sahadevan Master’s latest play was staged on Tamil New Year.
Born in Kottayam district, Kerala, he has been living for the last 56 years in Ambattur, Chennai. Bitten by the acting bug, Sahadevan Master did female roles in the Malayalam dramas staged at Trichur Town Hall, while studying at Maharajas Technological Institute, Trichur, in 1955-56. As an actor, his role covered the stage, big and small screens. As a director, it was confined to theatre.
After his education, he joined the Design office of Railway Locomotive works, Perambur, and retired as its Section Head in 1994. In 1958, he got his first opening in Madras as a drama artist through Villivakkam Malayalee Samajam and in 1963 he directed his first play, ‘Seven Nights,’ starring the then famous stage artist C.R. Lakshmi. In 1964, SM gave veteran artist T.R. Omana her first opening in the play, ‘Aswameydham,’ written by Thoppil Bhasi.
He made his acting debut in 1969 with ‘Poombaataa’ (Butterfly) directed by his guru, B.K. Pottekad, in which Sridevi was a child artist and T.R. Omana played a negative character. He has acted with Suresh Gopi in Badran’s ‘Yuvathurki’ and Shaji Killas’s ‘Mahaathma.’ He has actedwith Sukumari in ‘Circar Sahaayam Driving School,’ where they were an Anglo-Indian couple and as her hen pecked husband in ‘Kudumba Viseyshangal,’ as the husband of Tamil and Malayalam actor Chitra in ‘Maanasee, Udhyohasthan, as husband of veteran Kaviyoor Ponnammaa in ‘Krishna Kripa Saaharam,’ and in AVM’s ‘Sondham Maalooty’ TV serials. He has also acted in the G.V. Iyer-directed telefilm, ‘Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.’
SM has directed over 10 plays produced by Southern Railway Kerala Kala Samithi and the notable one was the Mythological, ‘Aswathaamaa,’ which had trick shots and had Dr. V. P Sidhan, founder of Medimix, as an artist. He has directed and acted in hundreds of Malayalam plays for United Cultural Padi, Triveni Arts Club, Padi, NSS Kalakendra Ambattur and so on, which stages dramas for special occasions such as Annual Day, Vishu and Onam. He has been not only a jury member but has also participated in several drama competitions amongst Malayalee Associations.
SM has not received any monetary remuneration till date for directing or acting in plays that have been staged over five decades, although his showcase isoverflowing with trophies and awards.
Over the last six months, SM and his team had been going through various scripts to select a play for the World Drama Day and finally chose Meera Krishnan Kutty’s ‘Anantharam.’ Under his direction, the daily rehearsals began at Dr. Anoop’s place, and had SM doing the balancing act to keep all the artists in good humour. At 77, SM never missed a rehearsal. He would park his scooter near Ambattur bus stand and catch an MTC bus to Dr. Anoop’s place every evening. He said that all the artists are affluent and opted for acting out of their passion for the stage. According to him, they came and went in cars on their own and just like him without expecting any monetary benefits.
Then in a nostalgic mood, he recollected that in the past whenever he missed the last bus after rehearsals, he would walk all the way to Ambattur, sometimes in the rain, and reach home by 4 a.m.
“Only my poor wife was the silent sufferer waiting anxiously for me without sleeping.” There were also days when rehearsals took place at his house and his wife cooked food for everyone. Whenever rehearsals continued late into the night, they would all stay back. The women would sleep inside the house and the men under the starry sky on the open terrace.
In a change of heart, the play was finally staged on Tamil New Year, as they wanted more people to see it.
AWARDS AND RECOGNITIONS
SM has been honoured in 1992 (for best direction in natakotsavam) by Madras Kerala Samajam, in 1999 (N.S. Das Puraskaram for dedication to Malayalam Amateur Drama) by NS Das Kalakendram, in 2003 by Kerala Friends Welfare Association , in 2005 by Pravanam Arts Pononam , in 2006 (Kala Prathibhaa Puraskaram) by Kerala Sangeetha Natak Academy of Kerala Government.
In 2009 (Achievement Award in Theatre) by Choolaimedu Malayalee Samajam, in 2010 by Kolathur Malayalee Mahotsavam, by Ammu Stage Vision, in 2011 he was Honoured by Federation of All India Marunaadan Malayalee Association, In 2012 (‘Guruvandhanam Award’ for his comedy ‘Chembaga Raman’) by Koltahur Malayalee Samajam and Samskrithi Association.