O.V. Vijayan’s Kazakh - A Theatrical Journey

Director Deepan Sivaraman in conversation with Abhilash Pillai at The Hindu Lit for Life

Updated - February 25, 2023 04:27 pm IST

Published - February 10, 2023 06:11 pm IST

Venue Kasturi Srinivasan Hall, Music Academy, Chennai SEE MAP

Time & DateFeb 25 , 2023 , 03:05 pm

Theatre director Deepan Sivaraman and play director Abhilash Pillai came together to discuss OV Vijayan’s novel Kazhak, and their experiences of directing different versions of the novel. 

Abhilash elaborated on how, until 2006, Kazhak was never explored in theatre. “We used to sit together and write the script everyday. There were European students who were part of the team, and they had their own difficulties in relating to the text. There was a time when we had paired students from the School of Drama with the locals. There were many exercises which we carried out with the students, in terms of acting and perspectives. We urged students to open up the novel from all possible perspectives. For instance, all actors spoke about their individual perspectives about one character. In short, everything was related with the self of the student.” 

He also pointed out how, much like Vijayan who had different characters he met in life that he brought them into Kazhak, it was students from across the world, with different perspectives, who came to perform. “That was how we began to develop the set design and we were sure we wouldn’t do it inside a theatre, so as to have real elements — like wells, coconut trees, and so on.” 

Deepak’s approach, on the other hand, was one where he was determined to not do anything that wouldn’t matter to the village actors. “I had to ensure that actors understood the material as not everyone would have read the novel. I held many reading sessions, not just for the actors and team, but also for the villagers — we set up reading sessions in houses, say, of 10 family members, for instance. So, they knew the importance of this and that it was definitely going to happen.” 

Answering Abhilash’s question on how he managed to make a literary piece come alive in the verbal language of a character, Deepan responded by saying that theatre was in no way an extension of literature. “In Kazhak’s case, for instance, I did not write a play. I usually go to the space, work with actors, listen to the kind of music and lullabies they listen to, hear stories from the village, and then bring the story into the process. Here, I worked with actors in the real time and space. I rehearsed in real houses. In fact, I worked in a real house, where a man’s wife was making biriyani in real-time. We worked in a real paddy field!” 

The Hindu Lit for Life 2023 is powered by Life Insurance Corporation of India in association with Ajay Toothbrushes. The Associate Partners are NITTE Education Trust, Hindustan Group of Institutions, State Bank of India, Sai University, and Vivek’s. Jewellery Partner: Joyalukkas. The Mobility Partner is Hyundai, Banking Partner is Indian Bank Realty, the Author Lounge Partner is VFS Global, the Realty Partner is Casagrand, the Knowledge Partner is SSVM Institutions, the Bookstore Partner is Higginbothams, the Gift Partner is Anand Prakash, and the Water Partner is Repute.

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