Sakharam Binder, the first play staged by Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre as part of the summer theatre fest, provided a perfect start to the three-day festival at the District Bank auditorium here on Tuesday.

The Malayalam adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi play Sakharam Binder directed by M.G. Jyothish, despite a slow and monotonous narrative in the beginning, gathers momentum in the later stage. Presenting a slice of the human psyche through the two female and three male characters, the play pokes at the many established systems in society such as marriage and caste system.

The theme appears to be more contemporary now than when the play was first staged in the seventies, when caste system and the institution of marriage was deeply revered and respected. The typical rural life in north India a few decades ago would not find symmetry with our present day thoughts, though.

Moments of silence in the midst of some sequences are quite impressive as are the performances of each artiste. The bullying protagonist was safe in the hands of Gopalan as was the rude and arrogant Chemba in the hands of Surabhi Lakshmi. The play delves deep into the intricacies of human mentality, the pious yet selfish Lakshmi, the sixth woman entering into the deviant life of Sakharam, in contradiction to the accommodating yet rude Chemba. The anxiety of Lakshmi and the tragedy met with by Chemba in the final moments were performed to the hilt by the actors.

The stage turned vivacious with entry of Chemba, while the intermittent appearances of Mian and Shinde provided the needed respite from the sequences turning dreary. Shylaja P. Ambu played the role of Lakshmi and Srinivas V.S. and Pratheesh R.P. enacted the roles of Dawood Mian, (Sakharam’s friend) and Shinde (Chemba’s husband), respectively.

Irakalodu Mathramalla Samsarikkendathu, directed by D. Reghoothaman and M.D. Jyothish will be staged on May 16, the concluding day of the festival.

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