Roshan Mathew loves being on the stage as much as being seen on the screen. In fact, the actor says he broke into the silver screen after many successful years under the arc lights in Chennai and Mumbai. Now, the Changanassery-born actor, known for his roles in Aanandam and Viswasapoorvam Mansoor among others, is donning the director’s hat for A Very Normal Family, “a dark comedy” that explores orthodoxy and individual freedom at play through a modern-day extended family.
Conceptualised by Roshan, the play brings together a motley group of talented artistes.
“In Kochi and in other places, I met a lot of actors who were like me, who wanted to get better with acting or take their skills to the next level and gain a larger exposure. Some of those on-board are artistes who have spent their time waiting for good work and others have been around for a while,” says Roshan, now based in Kochi. Actor Kani Kusruti is also part of the project.
“Kani had learnt about our project through a mutual friend and was quite enthusiastic about joining in,” adds Roshan.
However, the “open-ended collective” spearheaded by Roshan chooses to work sans a name. “Our group was just forming as a collective and we were also discovering ourselves. We soon realised we didn’t want to start off by calling ourselves by any name or company until we felt we were doing really well,” says Roshan, who made his Mollywood debut with Puthiya Niyamam .
A Very Normal Family revolves around a young woman, Tina, played by Darshana Rajendran of Mayaanadhi and Vijay Superum Pournamiyum fame, the only daughter in a house of three children. Tina, who works in a metro, comes back home for Easter holidays and breaks the news that she had got married two years ago but has now filed for divorce.
“That’s the trigger. The rest of the play is about how each member of the family reacts to this situation and comes up with his/her own solutions. About how big a deal the divorce turns out and how the family actually makes it a much bigger issue than what may essentially be a rift between two people,” says Roshan.
It is set in a Kerala town, a little away from a city. “It’s a well-off Christian family, the kind of family where a matriarch rules the house. Kani essays that character, called ‘Ammachi’,” adds Roshan, who will be next seen on screen in upcoming Nivin Pauly-starrer Moothon , directed by Geethu Mohandas.
Though discussing a sensitive topic such as divorce, Roshan says he has steered clear of making any judgements. “We are merely dissecting a perceived ‘stigma’ in a conservative environment. Sometimes, it’s an issue that gets blown out of proportion.”
A bilingual play, with dialogues written in “contemporary parlance”, Roshan says though in dramatic terms, Tina is the protagonist as her personal conflict takes the story forward, A Very Normal Family is not a female-centric work. “The character of Tina is merely used as the central point of view. However, we don’t really have a lead character per se as the stage presence has been apportioned to reflect an ensemble cast,” he points out.
Others in the cast include Rajesh Madhavan ( Maheshinte Prathikaaram ), Santhi Balakrishnan ( Tharangam ), Syamaprakash M S ( Sleeplessly Yours ), Divya Prabha ( Take Off ), RJ Sanjay Menon and Sidharth Varma.
( A Very Normal Family premières at Nishagandhi Auditorium at 7.30 pm on February 1 as part of Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters)