Actors Murukesh Kakkur and Kalamandalam Sandhya Murukesh are husband and wife. They have extended their off-stage romance, kindled 14 years ago when they worked together in a Kozhikode drama troupe, to the stage. They play hero and heroine in the Malayalam play, Kuriyedathu Thathri. They enact Raman Namboodiri and his wife Kuriyedathu Thathri, the strange relationship they shared as she went about questioning the ills in her community and oppression of women.

They have won the best actor and actress prize in the 2012 State Professional Drama Awards.

“When you deal with history, you have to be careful. I think I have handled scenes of Kuriyedathu Thathri’s Smarthavicharam (trial for adultery) sensitively,” Murukesh told The Hindu .

The couple, based in Kozhikode, have appeared together in the plays, Iruttinte Atmavu, Swapnathinetra Vayassu, Nandigramam, Snehayatra and Aswathamavu .

Murukesh has been in the professional drama circuit since 1986. He has appeared in the stage productions of Kalinga Theatres, Kozhikode; Vadakara Varada, Kollam Kalpana, Thrissur Rajaputra and Manappuram Karthika.

He contested for the State Professional Drama Awards competition for the first time. His enactment of three characters in Kuriyedathu Thathri drew the spontaneous applause of viewers at the competition this past week.

Veteran Kathakali actor Kalamandalam Balasubramaniam, who was among the audience, said, “I have no words to describe Murukesh’s performance.”

Murukesh was all inspired as he was performing at a venue named after his mentor K.T. Mohammed.

“The actor in me has been shaped by my mentors K.T. Mohammed, K.T. Syed, Ilyapilly Rajan, Karakulam Chandran, Paurnami Shankar, Jayan Thirumana, Payyannur Murali, Madhavan Kunnathara (of MAS Theatres) and my uncle Somaraj Kakkur,” he said.

As a 15-year-old, he walked into the office of Madhavan Kunnathara and found a father-like figure. He found his guru. Seven years at the MAS Theatres gave Murukesh the confidence to tell the world that he has arrived.

On Friday afternoon, he called up his guru and conveyed news of the award. “Thanks for everything,” he told him.

The guru’s voice was choked with emotion.