Campus Picture Stories

MCH sets the stage for regional theatre5 min read

April 14, 2019 5 min read

MCH sets the stage for regional theatre5 min read

Reading Time: 5 minutes

MANIPAL: The Manipal Centre for Humanities (MCH) Theatre Club staged a play in Malayalam titled ‘Balyakalasakhi’ for the first time at Gangubai Hanagal Auditorium on April 11 as part of their efforts to venture into regional theatre production. The two-hour play, whose title translates to ‘Childhood Friend’ was an adaptation of a book of the same name by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.


This romantic tragedy follows the journey of two childhood friends named Majeed and Suhra and their friendship from their childhood in a town. Each scene in the production plays out as a chapter from their lives that portrays a specific instance in time. This helps the audience see and understand the protagonists’ lives and relationships with one another. The very first scene is an incident from their childhood involving a mango tree. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


From the portrayal of their school life, we see that Majeed is not as bright or hardworking as the other students in his class, including Suhra. He would much rather have fun with Suhra or trouble his friends. This often makes him a target for his teacher. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


As they get older, Majeed and Suhra are aware of their attraction to one another, which often goes beyond just friendship. Majeed even sees a future for himself with Suhra. Their affection for each other ensures that they go to great lengths to support each other in difficult times and for significant life events like Majeed’s operation and Suhra’s ear piercing ceremony. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


Majeed gets the chance to pursue studies in high school, while Suhra isn’t able to yet due to her poorer financial condition. Suhra feels bad that she’s unable to pursue further studies but he consoles by promising that he would teach her whatever he managed to learn. Suhra’s father does, however, dream of educating his daughter very well but this doesn’t materialise as he passes away when she is 16, leaving her with the responsibility of caring for her mother and sisters. Since Majeed’s family is more affluent, his mother expresses the desire to help educate Suhra as well to his father. But his father does not agree. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


The actor portraying Majeed is seen breaking the fourth wall and interacting with the audience twice. At this point, Majeed’s father has thrown him out of the house. He feels his son is careless, showing little interest in completing work given to him. Majeed’s father asks him to leave home with the intention of getting him to improve as well as learn the ways of the real world. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


The play’s audience consisted of a mixed group – those who understood Malayalam as well as those who did not, but came for the experience. Revathi V, a second-year computer science engineering student from Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) said, “Actually, my friends and I came because one of our common friends from MIT is acting in the play. We understand the language but did not expect it to be so professional. It’s really good. I like the effort and the involvement of students from different sister colleges in the play.”


“Do you remember me?” After moving away from his town, Majeed meets his old classmate Rema in the city who informs him about his parent’s poor financial condition and Suhra’s marriage that took place a year ago. Upon Rema’s insistence to help his family through their struggle, Majeed returns home to visit. There he is taunted by his father for having returned home with no earnings. He also meets Suhra who explains that her mother fixed her marriage to someone with a wife and kids, but no demands for dowry and gold. She complains that her husband beats her, treats her like a servant that earns for him and does not give her peace of mind. Memories of the past refreshed, Majeed says he is going to marry Suhra, despite his mother’s disapproval. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


Majeed returns to a city in North India to work, entrusting Suhra with the care of his mother and promising to return soon. Here, he also gets handicapped in an accident and loses a leg. He is unsure of Suhra and his family’s reaction to his new life situation. One such day, he receives a letter from home. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


Majeed’s expecting a letter from Suhra, but instead it’s his mother writing to inform him of Suhra’s death, after two months of illness. She was like a companion to his mother and neither wrote to him about their troubles as they didn’t want to upset him far from home. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


Majeed is overcome with grief hearing the news of Suhra’s death and is in disbelief for a long time. He is desperate to know her final words for him as without it he will not get closure in his life. || Photograph Courtesy: Delvin Varghese


“They’ve done a great job. All the actors were really good. There was a bit of a lag in the middle but for an amateur directorial venture, they put up a great show,” said Reshma, freelance researcher, MAHE.

“Due to the full house, we can now say that our first attempt at a regional production has been a success. The senior who taught us direction had a vision to start a regional theatre space in MCH and we just took it up. This year we had the resources and the time of two months to invest in this. Since Manipal has a lot of vernacular people, so we wanted to do something that people identified with. Basheer as an author is known to everyone and this meant we were not restricted to a Manipal audience,” said Sania Lekshmi, director of the play.


Featured Image Courtesy: Delvin Varghese

Edited by: Nayanatara Jacob