Kerala

Row erupts over male nudity in Malayalam play

A scene from Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum, staged at a theatre festival organised by the National School of Drama at Adishakti Theatre at Auroville in Puducherry recently.

A scene from Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum, staged at a theatre festival organised by the National School of Drama at Adishakti Theatre at Auroville in Puducherry recently.   | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou

Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum staged at Bharat Rang Mahotsav in Puducherry on February 12

A controversy has erupted after the National School of Drama (NSD) issued notice seeking clarification from the director for including an act of nudity in his Malayalam play Bhaskara Pattelarum Thommiyude Jeevithavum (Bhaskara Pattelar and Life of Thommy) staged at Bharat Rang Mahotsav - International Theatre Festival of India, 2020 in Puducherry on February 12.

The play is directed by Suveeran, a best feature film national awardee for Byari (2011). The play is based on the novella Bhaskara Pattelarum Entey Jeevithavum by writer Paul Zacharia.

In a letter seeking clarification, the NSD said some who saw the play at the festival had ‘huge objection’ to the act of nudity in the play. It was presented before an audience comprising the NSD Society chairperson and many other dignitaries. As per the law, nudity and obscenity is banned in public performance.

Responding to the allegation, Suveeran said he believed that if nudity can enhance the total feel of the play it can even be used in public staging. “How can one say that the rules one should observe in public places are applicable in art as well? ... The play was staged in a closed place before a group of invited guests. Is the place akin to a public place,’’ Suveeran asked.

Selection process

The NSD said the play was chosen for the festival after a two-tier selection process and there was no scene of nudity in the DVD of the play submitted by Suveeran. “In view of this, it is clear a breach of agreement by including an act of nudity in the play... without prior information and approval of the NSD authority,” the NSD said.

Suveeran said the DVD submitted to the NSD was for quality analysis. He has never ever heard of censorship in plays. “The organic nature of plays gives the director freedom to intervene and improve the performance in each ensuing stage,” he said.

“The protagonist of the play I directed is a slave who is almost always naked in the play. He is clad in a torn dothi which he uses to cover his nudity. At times the torn cloth slips from his hands and exposes his nudity for a while. This culminates in the final scene in which he runs away totally naked,” Suveeran said.

“By including the act of nudity of the character Thommy in the play, the director could do justice to the character in my novella,” Zacharia said.

Thommy is a Christian migrant labourer from Kerala who is an obedient slave of his tyrannical landlord Bhaskara Pattelar in the novella.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 7:41:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/row-erupts-over-male-nudity-in-malayalam-play/article30943453.ece

Next Story