1. What are K Madhavan’s reasons for suggesting that a play on Vidwan P Kelu Nair be written and enacted?
According to K Madhavan, Vidwan P Kelu Nair Memorial Trust should celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of independence appropriately. He was speaking in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Trust. When one of the members suggested that they could enact one of the plays written by Vidwan P Kelu Nair, K Madhavan responded that more significant than his plays is the playwright himself. It is Kelu master that the new generation must know about. K Madhavan acknowledges that the present generation does not know the depth or breadth of the life of Vidwan P Kelu Nair. One of the members pointed out that the biography of Vidwan P Kelu Nair is published, so they can use it to learn about his life. However, Madhavan is of the view that a biography cannot capture fully the many sides of a person’s life. That is when he suggests that a play on Vidwan P Kelu Nair should be written and enacted.
2. What suggestion does Kelu offer Balakrishnan Nambiar for composing the play?
Balakrishnan Nambiar is given the responsibility to write a play on Vidwan P Kelu Nair. Balakrishnan Nambiar is stuck with a writer’s block while attempting to write the play. He sits down on his table to write. However, he is unable to bring to life the character of Kelu in words. When he is engrossed at his desk, Kelu comes to him as a figment of his imagination. Kelu tells him that he too had gone through the same conflicts as a writer. He also tells Balakrishnan that it would be best if he could let contradictions between the person and the act become the mould of the play. This is the suggestion given by Kelu.
3. What reasons does Balakrishnan Nambiar give P Kunhiraman Nair regarding his inability to write a play on Vidwan P Kelu Nair?
P Kunhiraman Nair asks Balakrishnan why he was having such difficulty in completing the play about Kelu when Balakrishnan himself wrote Kelu Nair’s autobiography. Balakrishnan responds that it is the knowledge about the life of Kelu that blocks his path in the process of writing. He states that the play demands a Kelu Nair beyond the Kelu Nair he learned about. Balakrishnan acknowledges that the real life of Kelu must certainly exist beyond the life he recorded in the biography. Limiting the life of a real human being within the pages of a play seems difficult to Balakrishnan.
4. What are Meenakshi’s fears about the repercussions about Kelu’s play?
Meenakshi fears that if the relatives in Neeleswaram and Chanderi come to know about the play, they will turn against Kelu. Kelu’s ideas were revolutionary. They are about the removal of untouchability from society. She also worries that if her father finds out that one of the characters, a stubborn patriarch, in the play is modelled on him, he shall be furious. She reminds him of Lakshmikutty’s wedding, where, according to Meekakshi, Kelu staged a khaddar drama. Revolutionary ideas that contradict the traditional dogmas prevalent in the society appear daunting to Meenakshi.
5. What is Kelu’s attitude towards Pakkanar?
Kelu Nair becomes emotionally disturbed at Meenakshi’s reminder of how the tentacles of the society would be quick to interfere in the life of the playwright if he goes on to endorse revolutionary ideas. Kelu’s attempt to inculcate opposition against the caste system and untouchability in the society is viewed as a threat by the members of dominant communities. Realising this, at the end of the play on his own, Kelu looks up at the statue of Pakkanar. Kelu feels that the statue’s eyes are gazing at his defeated self. He threatens the statue of Pakkanar that he shall smear its eyes with kohl. In his emotional surge, Kelu smears the eyes of the statue with kohl. However, he is quick to apologise for his action as well. In his delirium, Kelu sees Pakkanar as a representative of the traditionalists who denounce the plays of Kelu.
6. Comment on the theme of “writing” in the play.
The theme of writing appears as a major element in the play. The members of the committee selected Balakrishnan Nair to write a play on Kelu. As the process of writing unravelled, Balakrishnan confronts his incapabilities to complete the play. He hallucinates seeing the figure of Kelu and converses with him on the difficulties of the writing process. Balakrishnan acknowledges that he knows very little about Kelu. Balakrishnan is unable to complete the play. Soon, he visualises the presence of the great poet P Kunhiraman Nair and speaks with him. Kunhiraman Nair consoles Balakrishnan by telling him that a play is not meant to shrink life into a grasp. It is important to acknowledge the difficulty in such an attempt. Kelu and Kunhiraman Nair are then having a conversation about their place in the play being written by Balakrishnan. This is an instance of metatheatre or metadrama that brings into notice the very nature of the play. Through the dialogues or the interference of a character, the play draws attention towards the play. They hold a mirror at each other. The poet acknowledges that what they see in the mirror are not their real selves. As artists, they do not need mirrors. From this conversation, the play moves onto a scene from the life of Kelu and Meenakshi. Kelu is also writing a play and is unable to complete it, similar to Balakrishanan at the beginning of the play. Writing as a process challenges writers of different generations such as Kelu, Kunhiraman Nair, and Balakrishnan.
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REF: Multiple Modernities, edited by Board of Editors, Kannur University, Cohin: Hornbill Publishing House, 2019. Print.