KPAC Dramas adapted to Film – 1

KPAC-Kayankulam

Mudiyanaaya Puthran (1961)

Mudiyanaya Puthran Film Title The first in the series of the KPAC plays to be adapted on to the silver screen, the popularity of KPAC’s play which debuted in 1957 helped in its own way fuel up the popularity of its screen version too. The movie was produced by TK Pareekutty for his Chandrathara Productions, and was the debut of Ramu Kariat, Adoor Bhasi and S.Konnat – the art director who would later become a staple for all of Udaya’s productions, specially the Vadakkan Pattukal. The main roles of the village rebel Rajan was played by Sathyan ( O Madhavan in the stage version), his lady love Chellamma was Miss Kumari( KPAC Sulocahana in the stage adaptation), and the play had even won the the Kerala Sahitya Academy award for best literary work in the drama category in 1959. Continue reading

KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-5

Visharikku Kaattu Venda | Kathirukanakkili.

There is some confusion regarding these two drama productions included in the KPAC compilation of Drama Songs. For one, they DO NOT feature in the “official KPAC List of Dramas” as published on their website.

Update : 15 July 2010 The celebrated musicologist, columnist and Malayalam Cinema archivist B.Vijaykumar , confirmed that these two productions were from Kerala Theaters and had nothing to do with KPAC !!!!

The probable reason was that both the productions, Visharikku Kaattu Venda and Kathirukanakkili were creations of Ponkunnam Varkey, the enfant terrible of Malayalam Literature, and as such were very, very popular on the drama circuit. Maybe HMV was milking the franchise dry with stuffing the last soundbyte on vinyl and getting the ‘maximum dough’ out of it.

But then again, there were songs that were equally popular in the KPAC dramas selected, like Neram Mangiya from Mudiyanaya Puthran that didn’t make the cut. Continue reading

KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-4

Ningal Enne Communistakki.

Of the 12-odd  dramas that were adapted to film, the ones that were the most popular had to be Mudiyanaya Puthran and Ningalenne Communistaakki. And amongst the duo, this had the upper hand. If not for anything, but for the fact that Prem Nazir, Sathyan shared space with KT Ummer, a veteran from  KPAC , who would go on to become one of the most handsome villians, made all the more better with his signature style of dialogue delivery and mannerisms.

The drama was the defining production that dexterously weaved in the principles of collective ownership, struck against the fiefdoms created by caste strictures and the ensuing poverty in Kerala’s prevailing social system, exhorting people to rise up and fight it, portrayed through the lives of a crumbling, gone-to-seed Illam (a sort of Manor House ) whose head was still stuck on past glory, and the son who was unemployed, firebrand and ripe for a revolution with a cause. Continue reading

KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-3

Ashwamedham.

Playwright – Thoppil Bhasi
Lyrics- Vayalar Ramavarma
Music- MB Sreenivasan and K Raghavan
Direction- Thoppil Bhasi

Ashwamedham and the one that followed, Sarasayya addressed the same issue through the drama – the social stigma surrounding Leprosy as a contagion. Though the drama was instrumental in increasing the awareness of the “rights” of a section of the society which was deliberately kept out of the mainstream, the film version was a far cry from the original script, wallowing in melodrama and pithy glycerine histrionics. The movie adaptation was shot entirely in the Leprosy Sanatorium in Nooranadu, the only one in Asia. Even the drama was freely staged for the inmates of the Sanatorium by Thoppil Bhasi. Continue reading

KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs-2.

Mudiyanaya Puthran.

Playwright – Thoppil Bhasi
Lyrics –  ONV Kurup
Music –  G Devarajan
Direction – Thoppil Bhasi

One interesting fact about all the KPAC dramas which were adapted for the screen was the fact that none of the songs that made it such a social phenomenon and contributed to the popularity in the first place, were NEVER repeated on screen! For Mudiyanaya Puthran ( The Prodigal Son), a new set was written by P. Bhaskaran, released in 1961.

Lyrics : ONV Kurup  | Music : G.Devarajan.
1. Chillimulam Kaadukalil ~  Sung by : K S George.
The song was about the naughty, playful breeze rustling up the neighborhood bamboo thicket with a tune on its lips. A sliver of thought that takes a lot of time getting used to, in this age of almost zero patience thresholds, more like  – “You got time to chat up with the evening breeze?!!!!” Bah! Continue reading

KPAC’s Old Malayalam Drama Songs -1

This series is dedicated to Richard. :)

I don’t think there has been any other theater movement or for that matter any movement in any state in India,  that has entertained, and with it sown the seeds of social rethinking and transformation the way KPAC (Kerala Peoples  Arts Club) did for Kerala. I guess along with the central theme of the subjects that stalwarts like Thoppil Bhasi chose for the productions, the songs composed by the popular team of ONV-Devarajan was a big draw that brought people to watch them. Even though the compilation from HMV of KPAC’s drama songs is now on CD, I can never thank those audio engineers enough for leaving the hiss, the scratches and the rumble intact. All I have to do is close my eyes, and its as if KPAC Sulochana is right there on stage, rocking the stage with Cheppu kilukkana changathi ( from Mudiyanaya Puthran, 1960) . In an interview with The Hindu in 2005, Devarajan Master has shared some interesting details on the efforts that went in to produce the compilation. Continue reading