Readings on Kerala (1A02ENG)
1. How did Ayamu's play Ijju Nalloru Manushyan Aavan Nokku get its name?
E K Ayamu's play Ijju Nalloru Manushyan Aavan Nokku is Nilambur Ayisha's debut play. She was only 16 at that time. According to Ayisha, a group of young and enthusiastic individuals used to come together to discuss various themes on social change. Sometimes, these discussions ended very late at night. During one of these sessions, Ayamu suggested they should make a play on the issues plaguing the Muslim community. One of those gathered on the occasion shouted at Ayamu "Aadyam Ijju Nalloru Manushyan Aavan Nokku" ('why don't you try and become a good man first?'). Ayamu took this as the title of his play.
2. How did Ayisha get a chance to play the role of Jameela?
Before Ayisha made her debut men used to play female roles in plays. E M S Namboodiripad, who reviewed the play Ijju Nalloru Manushyan Aavan Nokku suggested that a woman should play the female lead. Ayisha recollected in her talk with Anasuya Menon that she remembers that day clearly when Ayamu came to her home with her brother. Ayisha was sitting on an easy chair and singing along with a gramophone record. Ayamu asked Ayisha when he saw her why couldn't she act as Jameela. She confesses that she knew nothing about acting. However, she had loved singing and had a sense of rhythm.
3. What was the reaction of Ayisha's family to her decision to act in the play?
Ayisha came from a rich family in Nilambur. Her family had several servants and an elephant. Ayisha's father and brother were interested in the arts. On every evening, at 4 PM, after work, her father would order all servants to stop work. They could display all their talents in front of everyone, including music, dance, or acting. Ayisha's mother did not prefer this. She warned Ayisha or the dire consequences from conservatives in the community who would exclude them from society. However, Ayisha was firm in her artistic pursuit.
4. Give an account of various attacks that Ayisha had to face while on stage?
Fundamentalists followed Ayisha to hurt her and destroy her acting career. She was pelted several times while on stage. Once she was taking part in the Bob Marley Festival in Kochi. Someone hurled a stone at her. She was wounded between her eyebrows. On another occasion, someone shot at her. She was performing in one of KT Mohammed's plays in Manjeri. Ayisha narrowly escaped the attack. She was saved by sheer luck. Another time, while performing at Mannarkad, a man from the audience went up to her and slapped her. Ayisha lost her ability to hear in one ear due to this incident.
5. How did Ayisha's family survive the tough times?
After her father's death, Ayisha's family realized they were broke. During the same period, orthodox sections of the Muslim community and fundamentalists started creating problems, trying to disrupt her theatre activism. Poverty and hunger became her reality. Those who were against her theatre activism forbade people from helping her. Only a few good-hearted individuals like Kunhi Kuttan Thampan of the royal family or Nilambur and Dr M Usman offered her refuge. Both of them were social reformers and supported the arts. Actor Nilambur Balan advised Ayisha to actively take part in theatre.REF: Multiple Modernities, edited by Board of Editors, Kannur University, Cohin: Hornbill Publishing House, 2019. Print.
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