An innovative experiment in theatre

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One for the masses: A scene from Kuruthippadam
One for the masses: A scene from Kuruthippadam

Staff Reporter

A play that seeks to ignore the boundary between actors and the audience

Portrays life of poor peasants in North Malabar against backdrop of agrarian struggle

Drama unfolds through conflict between situations in the past and the present

Kannur: ‘Kuruthippadam’ has been presented as a theatre experiment that introduces innovations with a professed aim of ensuring a new theatre experience that defies the recent trend of Malayalam theatre.

The play was authored by Karivellur Murali and directed by Naripatta Raju.


It was presented by the Vellur Central Arts and seeks to ignore the boundary that divides actors and the audience and to involve the latter as participants in the proceedings.

The drama is expected to be popular among the people living in villages in North Malabar, according to artistes involved in the theatre experiment.

‘Kuruthippadam’ portrays the life of poverty-stricken peasants in North Malabar in the backdrop of the agrarian struggle that broke out on December 20, 1946 in Karivelllur, a northernmost village in the erstwhile Chirakkal taluk in Kannur.


The play unfolds its central message that the struggle carried out by rural peasants of Karivellur for upholding their rights to soil, food and freedom is still relevant.

“The drama is an attempt to relate the Malabar agrarian struggles that occurred 60 years ago to contemporary socio-political milieu,” says Mr. Murali.

The play unfolds through conflict between the present and the past, he observes.

There is a scene where a person is hit by a tipper lorry when he stands in protest in front of the vehicle brought by a group that wants to fill the paddy field to build a tourist resort on the banks of Kuniyan river that flows through Karivellur, the spot where the struggle began.

A group of youths watching TV in a nearby library is so immersed in the reality show they are watching that they are hesitant to rush to the spot.

Leaders of the struggle A.V. Kunhambu, K. Krishnan and Payangappadan Kunhiraman emerged out of the book shelves in the library when the youths air their view that Kerala has only its natural beauty to sell and that it will get little from its agricultural fields.


The play presents a timeline beginning from the fourth political conference of the Indian National Congress chaired by Jawaharlal Nehru at Payyannur in May 1928 to the day when the Karivellur struggle started.

Mr. Murali is son of the late leader Kunhambu. Mr. Raju, director, teaches at the School of Drama in Thrissur.

According to Mr. Murali, ‘Kuruthippadam’ gives up the paraphernalia of the proscenium theatre as it is staged in an arena arranged in an open ground.

The play is expected to revitalise the theatre activities of North Malabar, he adds.




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