Sunil Pattimattom touches on social issues with the help of his puppets
Sunil Pattimattom’s stage is in his black bag. From this bag, which acts as a magician’s hat for him, he pulls out characters with tales to tell.
Sunil, an employee at Chandrasekharan Nair Stadium, stages plays that give food for thought to the denizens in the city. If one is on alcoholism, there are others on drug abuse, suicide, smoking, rise in marital discords…
The stories he stages are based on radio dramas he has written for All India Radio.
“I started writing and performing radio plays for All India Radio in 2007. My first play was Aathmavinte Swanthantryam. It is on a prisoner confessing that alcohol was the culprit in his wife’s murder.”
Sunil started staging his plays through the use of puppets when he first visited the Poojappurra Juvenile Home. “I saw a puppet show that had no real theme or story thread behind it. As I felt puppets were engaging, I felt I should use them to tell my stories.”
Sunil performed a play which dealt with the ill effects of alcohol at the Juvenile Home and the puppet which told the tale was a Mickey Mouse doll. “I converted it into a hand puppet. It was badly done; I have now discarded it.” He bought his set of a dozen ‘professional’ puppets from his friend Joy who lives in Punalur.
Starting with solo acts with two or three of his puppets and a black box, Sunil now has a mini-troupe who helps him with his shows. The troupe called Vision of Life consists of Rinto Paul Alappadan, Arjun Suranad, Sajin Parasalla, Saju Peroorkada and Sunil’s son, Arun Sunil. “We record our dialogues and the puppets lip sync according to the text.”
An avid reader, Sunil gathers material for his plays from the newspaper. “That is why most of my stories touch upon social issues,” says Sunil who has performed with his puppets and his troupe for the past three years in schools, streets in and around the city and in various stages in the State. Sunil and his team recently collaborated with Meditrina Hospital in an anti-smoking drive. “We went amongst the fishing community and our puppets seemed to have made an impact.”
Sunil recently made a 22-minute long telly film in Malayalam. His puppets are the stars of the show. Titled Oru Velichathekku, it is about a boy, Sharath who loses his focus in life. When his teacher intervenes, he realises how much his family has sacrificed for his education and gets back on the right track.
Sunil is currently in talks with a television channel. He hopes to host a puppet show on television. He also hopes to conduct street plays with his troupe.