A visual and dramatic interpretation of ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ enthralled viewers.

An interesting ‘visual jugalbandhi’, claimed to be a first in Indian theatre, was staged at Vyloppilly Samskriti Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram. The ambitious endeavour was a a combination of play and paints. The event, a new visual interpretation of C.V. Balakrishnan's ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam' and an on-the-spot artistic impression of the play on canvas by artist Udayakumar, certainly entertained viewers.

C.V. Balakrishnan's ‘Ayussinte Pusthakam’ or ‘the Book of Life' has haunted readers for more than quarter of a century now. Capturing a whole gamut of tumultuous emotions, the book questions concepts of sin and sexuality in the backdrop of doctrinaire religious concepts. P.C. Harish, who conceptualised the event, takes a refreshing deviation from the narrative style of Balakrishnan, opting to look at the story through a female point of view. What is sin, and who is a sinner is a view point which is the prerogative of the reader, opines Harish, and this can differ with every reading of the text.

Harish is vocal about his 10-year obsession with the book and its characters and his final meeting with the author to realise his ambition of visualising it in a hitherto unexpressed manner. He has been interpreting his favourite books visually and this is his tenth project. Harish's hopes to portray MT Vasudevan Nair's female protagonists in his next venture.

The play unfolds through the eyes of the four female protagonists of the play, presented in an extraordinary solo debut by young danseuse-actor Deepika. Deepika's impressive achievements include the Kalathilakam of the Calicut University and the best actress award from a popular reality show on Amrita TV.

Touching recital

The light-limbed lass glided among the viewers and on stage in a graceful and touching recital of the traumas and trials of the four women connected by fate. The play pans out to a narration backstage by a male voice, and in the voices of the protagonists of the novel – Sara, Rahel, Mary and Annie on stage.

Udayakumar, meanwhile, dipped his brush into paint for a quick portrayal of the characters on stage and his impression of the recounting of the story. Four female forms indicating the protagonists, a couple of serpents in black for the sins galore in the theme, or even a Freudian interpretation of sexuality, and a maze of brilliant and dull colours in contrast made the painting appealing by the time he put the brush down. His canvas was to the left of the stage where he was in view of the stage and the audience but other than the spectators in the first row and those sitting on the left, the rare joy of watching a painter in progress could not be harvested in full.

This artist had to be content with post-play congratulations. Udayakumar has done this spot-art endeavour at several venues successfully before.

The music and the light effects were by Ramdas. Balakrishnan who was present to witness the venture commented: “It's certainly a different interpretation, the woman's voice; my narration was through the male voice.” The play, without doubt, reiterated the theme of loneliness portrayed in the book and the artists, both on stage and on canvas, impressed with their undiluted performances.