Moments of Truth

That every day we face. And being honest about it!

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TeeBee for many, Manthru for some, Sunny for a few, Myna for selected, Suresh for record. Hailing from Thrissur of Kerala and now lives (read survives) in Monroe Twp, NJ with wife and daughter.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hat trick

At least for the time being, cricket has nothing to do with what I am going to write. I have nothing against cricket and if I had taken one hour off the time I had spent for watching cricket on all days for something useful.... what? Nothing! Probably I would be myself the same way I am now. Meaning it would not have made much difference :-) Sounds interesting?

Kerala Kala Samithi, a group of faculty, workers and students who have not forgot their love for togetherness, of IIT Madras (Chennai) used to spend creative time to bring quality hours of entertainment, traditional as well as modern, mainly to get over with the nostalgic feelings of being outside the state. During times of Vishu (April) and Onam (Aug-Sept), it provided a great opportunity for many to show their hidden talents and also to be away from the monotonous nature of research or work. I have been fortunate enough to represent Brahmaputra hostel for almost three years during my stint in IIT as a MS research scholar at the computer science department.

There were great occasions where arrangement of floral decorations, food or entertainment programmes were accepted with ardent heart. I had written, directed and performed three skits in each year with the help of enthusiastic friends and each time I realised the pleasure and pressure of creation. Is it that much to be talked about? Well! Creation always is! Doesn't matter who, what and when! Though the skits were a maximum of 15-20 minutes long, there was a good amount of effort that had put behind to bring it on stage. Let me write about that hat trick and the memorable moments.

Ammayiyammapporu

This was the first skit performed during the Onam celebrations in 1996 and was a remake of the prize winning skit of 1995 from Govt. Engineering College, Thrissur. More on the same can be read from another story (Skits and Hits) but this one too had its share of memories that I would keep for years. The cast, other than myself, was Santhosh (Mala), one of my two year seniors in Thrissur, and Rajeev G (pronounced ji with respect), both from Tapti hostel. I was a regular visitor of Tapti hostel and malayalees in that hostel had little apprehension to accept me as one of them. I am thankful to them for that. Now and then. Rajeev was in the role of my son and Santhosh was acting as his wife where as I was playing the role of mother or mother-in-law (see! it is the same depending on the perspective), the same role I played a year back. As expected, the skit went on to receive good applause from the crowd but there was another memorable incident that happened in between.

There used to be a scene where the mother (or mother-in-law), played my me, slaps the daughter-in-law, frustrated by the indifferent and dominating attitude showed by her son's wife. Santhosh bhai was supposed to turn his face to reduce the effect of getting actually hit, Rajeev who was supposed to be off the scene was to make a sound using his hands to make the audience hear the sound of the slap and I was to only brace him gently still making it feel like a slap. The electric atmosphere of the theatre, the heat of the climax, the excitement of bringing to life a prize winning skit on another stage, being involved in the scene, a lack of timing. I could not know which of it actually attributed as I was running for cover after the skit. I only knew one thing. Santhosh bhai's face was red with an award winning performance.

Kalyanasougandhikam

Boosted by the success of first year's skit, in 1997, I started to work on a script that had been in mind for years. This time there were a lot of new comers in the hostel and I did not have to cross the border to reach Tapti hostel for getting actors. Also the previous years experience would be in their mind and I was afraid too. The script was based on the epic Mahabharata and the plot was Bheeman, the second (actually third) of the Pandavas, going in search of the sougandikam, a rare flower, at the request of his wife Paanjali or Droupadi and on the way having an encounter with his half-brother Hanuman. Sri Hanuman is the only character who appears in both the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Bheeman, truly, is a character at loss most of the time, depicted by well known novelists in Malayalam. Some references can be Randamoozham and Ini Njan Urangatte. His wife, being the wife of all his brothers too, was effectively utilising or avoiding him.

The risks of getting the flower was high, the consequences not worth the effort. Still for the sake of love or expectation of possible love, Bheeman went on to meet his destiny, the meeting with his half-brother. I always wondered what they could have possibly talked about. The epic has its own version, but the situation might probe the imagination of many. Vyasa, the author of Mahabharata, had made it to teach Bheeman a lesson by making Hanuman an old and diseased monkey who could not move out of the way. Ideas were pouring, but nothing came strongly to the script and I had to admit that the script needed to accept contributions from Eldo Mathew, who went on to play Panjali, and Praveen Krishna, who played Hanuman. Their suggestion of both characters getting signals, of common origin, from their yawns reminded me of old movies where keys and locks or soap box and covers used to make heroes getting united in the climax scenes. The skit ran on that trick alone. Hanuman in the end makes a statement. "Bheema, my dear brother, you go on to get the flower, useless it may be, ultimately it might reduce the bad smell off your wife's hair!". He, and so I, meant a lot. For those who can think. At least, I wanted to make a point. Are all our goals worth the effort?

IITyil Oru Pranayakalathu...

"After the stupendous success of two skits in the previous years, here comes another presumptous one from Brahmaputra", announcement came in fluent Malayalam, I am taking the liberty to translate it, from Narayanan bhai (who is an assistant professor of Clarkson University now) who was the coordinator of Onam entertainment programmes in 1998. I am leaving it to him to correct my translation as he is too good in the vocabulary and use of English language. It was his constant pressure that made me to come out of my shell; I had kept myself away from movies, Tapti evenings, outings to concentrate on my research during the final eight months; and sleep over a script that was going to be my last in IIT.

Since I was in a love affair during that time, which culminated in my marriage with the same woman, I wanted to talk something about love. There was a skit that was getting rehearsed under the able leadership of Abhilash and Rajeev in Tapti hostel. As a special case, they had even promised a role in that skit but I could not digest some dialogues that were directed towards women and pulled out to make my own. Expectedly, their skit went on to star most Taptians and was applauded as well. The theme was good but I had differences only with the dialogues. India is a democratic country and it gives the citizens freedom of expression. I told Rajeev that we will agree to disagree.

I played a double role (all dreams coming true, at least before a small group) as that of the God of IITs temple and that of Enasu, a typical grocery store owner of Thrissur town. The connection is not clear but my intention was to say that nothing is impossible for the Almighty and he can come in any shape he wishes to. It was not Enasu or the priest of the temple, played by Praveen Krishna, who went on to make headlines. It was Narayanan Kutti who played the role of a mentally retarded shop employee who stole the thunder. The skit talked about increasing romances around temples and the God himself getting restless nights. It mentioned the lack of dedication from priests in temples these days. The skit reaches its climax with Enasu giving an advice to the priest, who went to meet him at the command of the God, that only marriages can bring an end to the current trend and that alone will teach a lesson to the dating couple.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Gireesh said...

Dear Suresh,

Could you please send two or three good skit scripts to the following email id : gireesh_vpm@yahoo.co.in. It ll be very much helpful for us in a competition.
Gireesh.S
Cochin

4:53 AM  

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