A scene from the play.
ALAPPUZHA: Thoppil Bhasi's iconic play 'Ningelenne Communistakki' (You made me a communist) that created waves in Kerala in the past is set to stage a comeback after a break of ten years. The Kerala People's Arts Club (KPAC) that first staged the play in 1952 will perform it at a private convention centre at Kayamkulam on Sunday. Mr A. Shajahan, secretary, KPAC, said that the club had been receiving inquiries from many people about the play and that bookings were full till August. "We had performed the play on special occasions during the last one decade, including at the venue of the CPI congress held at Kollam recently," he said.
The play will be staged without any change from its original frame directed by Thoppil Bhasi. "Out of the 17 artists who took part in the yesteryear version, six are alive. The KPAC has roped in all of them to act. They had handled the main roles in that play and they have given tips to the new artists. It will be performed under the same banner as in 1952," he said. The drama, which was first played on December 6, 1952 at Thattassery near Chavara of Kollam district, was staged at over 7,000 places across the state and had helped in spreading the communist ideology in Kerala.
The play attacks the then prevailing practice of feudalism and shows how the tortured became communists to take on the wealthy landlords. The story revolves round Paramu Pillai, a farmer struggling to make both ends meet, who lives in a village with his wife Kalyani, son Gopalan and daughter Meenakshi. Gopalan discontinues his college studies and works for the welfare of agricultural labourers and farmers. Mathew is another leader of the agricultural workers' union who supports Gopalan in his activities. Valiyaveetil Kesavan Nair, a cruel landlord, takes possession of the holdings of some of the poor farmers in the village and becomes the arch rival of Gopalan. When Nair's daughter Sumavalli falls in love with Gopalan, he declares all-out war against Gopalan.
Nair targets Pillai's land and his evil eye also falls on Mala, daughter of Karamban, a small-time farmer. Gopalan saves Mala from Nair. Mala takes a liking for Gopalan, but withdraws in favour of Sumavalli. Nair's goons beat up Gopalan who is hospitalised. He also takes possession of Paramu Pillai's and Karamban's land by using forged title deeds. Following this, Paramu Pillai, who was against the activities of his son, realises the advantage of his son's ideology, takes up the Communist Party flag and joins a party procession. Mr Shajahan said it was an attempt to remind the new generation of the struggles waged by their forefathers. The play had been revived at regular intervals, including in 1959, '67, '68 and '89, he said.