Theatre

M.T. Vasudevan Nair’s characters on stage

Mahasagaram, a drama directed by Prasanth Narayanan

Mahasagaram, a drama directed by Prasanth Narayanan   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

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Prasanth Narayanan’s Mahasagaram celebrates the works and persona of M. T. Vasudevan Nair

Adapting a literary work to the stage or to the celluloid is not easy. And what if you have many literary masterpieces to deal with? And what if the writer happens to be littérateur M.T. Vasudevan Nair? Prasanth Narayanan had to factor in all these challenges when he was assigned to conceptualise and direct a play featuring an array of characters created by MT. Eventually, he came up with Mahasagaram, which premièred in Kozhikode in 2017. On March 19, Prasanth is bringing the play back on stage, in the capital city.

Mahasagaram celebrates MT, the master that he is, says Prasanth. “He is every Malayali’s pride. This work has been envisaged as an archive that will present MT as a person and a writer. This work is a celebration for those who know him and have read his works. And those who haven’t can learn and understand the genius that he is. The play gives a clear picture of MT’s political and social vision. Here is a writer who could foresee the current political scenario in a work that he wrote in the 70s!” he says.

The play strings together over 30 characters from MT’s works. An addition to the current performance is Asuravithu.

The preparations

Director Prasanth Narayanan

Director Prasanth Narayanan   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

The works were selected by Prasanth and writer V.R. Sudheesh, along with MT himself. The research and study took nearly six months with critic and poet Kala Savithri pitching in to help Prasanth. “One of MT’s suggestions was to include Manju in the play. It didn’t do well as a film and so he wanted us to make it a success on stage. In fact, he was there with the unit while we were doing our rehearsals and was happy with our work,” Prasanth adds.

He avers that there is nothing esoteric or enigmatic about Mahasagaram. “There is an entertainment quotient for sure. Different styles of acting have been incorporated keeping in with the theme of different works. For example if Kaalam called for naturalistic acting, in Manju there is a blend of realism and fantasy, while Iruttinte Aatmavu is surrealistic,” he says.

The rehearsal of Mahasagaram, a drama directed by Prasanth Narayanan

The rehearsal of Mahasagaram, a drama directed by Prasanth Narayanan   | Photo Credit: S MAHINSHA

There are 18 artistes in the play, with MT as the narrator. While the first show had only debutants, this time it has a few established names in the theatre and film industry, including Surabhi Lakshmi, Bineesh Kodiyeri and Nisthar Ahamed (Ozhivudivasathe Kali-fame).

Surabhi essays three roles — Kuttyedathi from Kuttyedathi, Daya from Daya or Unniyarcha from Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha and Ammini from Naalukettu. “I had attended a theatre workshop led by Prasanth sir. Since then I have been looking forward to working with him and so when he called me for Mahasagaram, I immediately set aside all other commitments and joined the rehearsal camp. A good thing about the project is that I could catch up with many of MT sir’s works that I had read half way through or set aside for future reading,” she says.

The National Award-winning actor adds that there is nothing more refreshing than being on stage. “It helps you realise your limitations and become a better artiste. For me, once I finish a play, I get an energy that lasts for two to three years!” says Surabhi.

Bineesh Kodiyeri seconds her, saying, “Cinema doesn’t give us enough time or space to explore our talent, whereas theatre involves direct interaction with the audience.” Bineesh, who has done street plays during his college years, essays characters in Kaalam, Gopuranadayil and Asuravithu.

The play is being produced by Vastu Niketa and Kalam, Prasanth’s acting school. Sreekanth Nair is the light designer with Nidheesh Pookode handling art direction. Scenic design is by Prasanth himself. “We want to stage Mahasagaram across Kerala and outside. This is a step towards popularising theatre. The main objective is to give a source of income for those who do theatre. We want to keep theatre alive, especially when people are coming out to watch plays and support the productions. Lack of funds is a worry for many troupes, but there is still hope.”

The play will be staged at Nishagandhi auditorium on March 19 at 6 pm. Entry is by pass. Contact: 9495042910

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 12:05:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/mts-characters-on-stage/article23259716.ece

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