In love with the theatre

Murali Menon is basically a theatre personality. With more than 15 years' standing in the profession, he has carved a niche in the London Theatre where he enjoys a high rating.

Murali has never been enamoured of the arclights, though he has had brief stints on the floors and locations of films. But these stints have only been behind the camera as the associate director to Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Shyamaprasad.

He had never wanted to be identified with the film industry, says Murali. It was under pressure from the directors that he donned the greasepaint for a couple of films: G.N. Panikkar's `Pandavapuram' and `Samudayam', directed by Ambili. However, when it came to `Bhavam', the maiden directorial venture of Satish Menon, the Chicago-based youth from Kochi who also scripted and produced the film, Murali just could not resist the offer or even the temptation of essaying the lead role.

For one thing, he had been associated with Satish in the making of this film right from the word go. In fact, the two had discussed several subjects before making up their mind on going ahead with the story of the trials and tribulations of an urban couple living in a Kerala metropolis and the impact of a consumer culture on their lives.

Both Satish and Murali shared the view that the personal struggles and the family conflicts of the couple, presented with the perceived moral degradation in Kerala society, would make an interesting storyline, which could be translated into a forceful Malayalam movie.

They were proved right. The director as well as the hero can take pride in the fact that `Bhavam' ("Emotions of Being''), premiered in the city the other day, has done justice to the medium.

Portraying the concerns, the tensions and the agonies of the central character of the film, Joy, a journalist, was a challenge for Murali.

He feels that he has been able to convey Joy's love for his wife (from a different religion) and their unborn baby, dislike for her sister, commitment to his profession and all the natural weaknesses and obsessions of an ordinary human being. Murali says stardom has never attracted him, "not even in my wildest dreams''. On the other hand, the dream that he is nurturing right now is the `one man show' that he plans to stage in venues abroad, along with the `one woman show' to be performed by his wife and film and theatre personality, Cuckoo Parameswaran.

Even though Murali is all set for the staging of his show, `The Rise and fall of Janardhan Sreerang Bhandari', a satire as the name itself suggests, Cuckoo still pre-occupied with her assignments in a Malayalam TV channel.

The couple already has offers for staging both the shows in Dubai and Singapore.

Murali hints that he would be scripting and also directing a Malayalam movie, most probably next year. His return to the London stage depends very much on how his pet project takes shape.

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