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Soviet Station Kadavu pulls off time travel easily on stage

The play by director Hazim Amaravila is based on a short story by Murali Krishnan

October 03, 2022 06:58 pm | Updated 06:58 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

A scene from the play ‘Soviet Station Kadavu’

A scene from the play ‘Soviet Station Kadavu’

Portrayals of time travel on screen often involve a whole load of contraptions, which are often intended to convey a sense of complexity to the audience. But in Kanal Samskarika Vedhi's latest play Soviet Station Kadavu, a minimalistic prop, fitted with a Wi-Fi-controlled lighting setup, is all that is needed to portray time travel, from 2022 to 1980, and from there to the Second World War as well as to Adolf Hitler's younger days.

What the play achieves over close to two engaging hours is not easy to pull off, even with a bigger budget. And, the audience is clearly loving the play, going by the rapturous reactions. One of the plays chosen by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi to fund this year, Soviet Station Kadavu had housefull runs on three successive nights in Thiruvananthapuram last week at the Soorya Ganesham auditorium.

The play's director Hazim Amaravila, who previously directed the much-appreciated Veendum Bhagavante Maranam, says that reading the original short story by Murali Krishnan kindled a wish in him to turn it into a play, due to the possibilities as well as challenges of portraying time travel on stage.

Contemporary context

"We have made certain changes from the original story to link it to the contemporary context. In the story, the protagonist travels from 1980. We placed him in 2022. As for the concept of time travel, we had to ensure that it remained something easily comprehensible because a large section of the audience are senior citizens, especially in the rural areas. At the same time, it also has to appeal to the younger generation who are familiar with all these themes from films and television series," he says.

Artist Sujathan made the props, which are easy to carry and can be assembled in around an hour, considering the fact the group has to take the play to several locations. The lighting setup for the time machine was done by Sujith Rajan, an electrical engineer.

The play, which is an obvious product of the contemporary concerns of rising authoritarianism, also is based on the old saying about power bringing out the worst in even the most harmless. Cheerani Ravi, the central character played brilliantly by Amal Krishna, transforms from a simple village man to a power hungry autocratic man himself, when he is sent back in time by the Soviets to stop Hitler from even thinking about gaining power. Kannan Nayar and Reju Koliyakkode, played two of three different phases of Hitler, also put up commendable performances.

It is also about the need to study and understand history, as well as about drawing the right lessons from it, so that the mistakes committed by humans in previous eras are not repeated by the successive generations. The unfortunate fact that such mistakes are repeated makes the play relatable even in contemporary times.

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