Monday, June 24, 2024

Koothu-P-Pattari brings Tamil writer Pudhumaipithan’s life on stage, his daughter reacts

Naan Puthumaipithan, a production by Koothu-P-Pattarai

Naan Puthumaipithan, a production by Koothu-P-Pattarai

Two hours before Koothu-p-pattarai’s production Naan Puthumaipithan begins playing at the theatre company’s premises in Virugambakkam, its crew is warming up with some acting exercises. You hear conversations about Tamil writer C. Viruthachalam, better known by his pseudonym ‘Pudhumaipithan.

It is the final day of the staging of the play, which chronicles the life of this revolutionary writer, who passed away when he was just 42. Director K. S. Karuna Prasad is preparing for this last show in Chennai before the troupe travels to Erode.

Every one is looking forward toPudhumaipithan’s daughter Dinakari Chokalingam’s presence in the audience.

Some of the actors are sweeping and swabbing the stage, others are setting up chairs while some are hurrying to finish their make up. You get an interesting purview of how this theatre company goes through the grind on and off stage.

According to Karuna Prasad, the play, which was staged for five days in a row, drew two kinds of audiences. “There is one group that adores Pudhumaipithan. They have read many of his writings and are eager to see parts of his life come alive on stage. The other group is clueless about him but gets excited about his work and reads about it when they go back..

Myriad characters

Karuna Prasad and his collaborator, the Sahitya Akademi award winning writer S. Ramakrishnan discussed the theme before the pandemic. There was no clear plan about staging Naan Puthumaipithan. “S. Ra had announced on Facebook that he was ready with the script and that I was directing it. We have known each other for the past two decades”.

Kadavul and Pudhumaipithan

Kadavul and Pudhumaipithan

The play is set in the 1930s and 1940s and sees Pudhumaipithan (played by P. Ajay Aravind and A. Ajithkumar) struggling to find work as a writer in the world of publishing and cinema in Madras. He and his wife Kamala (R. Sridevi) , would often indulge in arguments about their life’s many challenges.

However, the most interesting part of the play is the scene where Pudhumaipithan is interacting with different characters, including Shiva (N. Chandrasekar), Moodupani ( (S. Ramar and S. Suresh), or the misogynistic Paalvannam Pillai (essayed by G. Paulraj and S. Suresh), from his many short stories.

Pudhumaipithan, a “prince among short story writers”.

Pudhumaipithan, a “prince among short story writers”.

Pudhumaipithan speaks to them with an air of nonchalance. He feels these characters who argue with him deserves the kind of ending that he has given them in the stories. Through these conversations, the audience is made aware of Pudhumaipithan’s convictions. He never wrote unless he was convinced about a story’s moral outcome. A man ahead of his time, he championed gender equality, and questioned authority— even god.

The director ensured that the actors, many of whom played dual roles, get into the nuances of this 90-minute play. There were eulogies in the form of songs, poetry and gags that made the play a tad bit too long. . “Pudhumaipthan wrote for himself and never compromised,” said Karuna Prasad .

Full circle

Minutes after Pudhumaipithan dies on stage after coughing violently in the last act, the actors take a bow and there is thunderous applause.

Pudhumaipithan’s wife Kamala speaks.

Pudhumaipithan’s wife Kamala speaks.

An emotional Dinakari shares her thoughts about the portrayal of her father, who died when she was just two years old, and the trauma that her mother underwent. And the audience remains moved too.

Follow Koothu-P-Pattarai’s facebook page to be abreast about their latest events.

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