On the stage, when Sulaiman talks, jokes, laughs and emotes, there’s no trace of Binoy Nambala in him. When he walks in and out of stage playing six characters during the hour-long show Sulaimante Payakkam Parachilukal, the audience, surprised by the unique, humorous presentation in North Malabar dialect stay hooked on to it till the curtains fall.
Binoy would say that the show is not a novel idea and has been here for long. “Payakkam Parachil is an age-old Mappila art form popular in Malabar region, especially Vadakara, till the 1960s. It is more of a satirical storytelling. An artiste would perform before a small crowd in a village by talking about several issues, both social and regional, in humorous language. At times, they take the performance to another level by amicably settling petty issues between neighbours and villagers,” recalls Binoy, who hails from Parappanangadi in Malappuram.
He was attracted to the long-lost art form while preparing his PhD thesis at Sree Sankaracharya University of Sanskrit, Kalady, where he is a theatre student.
Chakyar Koothu or the new-age standup comedy can be considered a closer version of Payakkam Parachil — which has been either a storytelling technique for a region or a means to attract people to the mosque to attend preaching sessions during the holy month of Ramzan. “What I perform now is an improvised version of the original with the accompaniment of music. I discuss current affairs and social issues laden with jokes and funny dialogues in various costumes,” he says.
Directed by Gopan Chidambaram, who penned the story for Amal Neerad’s Iyyobinte Pusthakam, Sulaimante Payakkam Parachilukal has been to several parts of the world where people welcomed the show gladly. “The responses have been very helpful. Elders who have watched the original format are of great help by giving proper suggestions and guidance,” he adds. Since there are minimum cast members and props - himself and his musician - and the sets which would fit in his car, Binoy has been taking Sulaiman to various stages across Kerala for the past one year. On the movie front, last seen in a comic role in the super hit Aadu 2, Binoy is also part of the upcoming Anwar Rasheed directorial Trance. Theatre too has never taken a backseat for the actor, who, last year, won the second best actor award instituted by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi for Bombay Tailors.
On Monday, Binoy will perform his Payakkam Parachil at Mahatma Gandhi Beach, Fort Kochi, at 7 pm.