Thannem Kori Andruman, Gandhikuttappan and Brain Tumour Abdulla were some of the characters which used to keep Malayalis on the edge of their seats right up to the end of those mesmerising dramas. It was Muhammad Perambra who personified these characters on stage across the state, with myriad expressions.
Muhammad was on cloud nine when he was contacted to share his 50 years of association with the theatre. What makes him happy is the Subabu drama award which was bestowed on him recently for his comprehensive contributions to drama. An influential orator and one of the most sought-after actors, Muhammad started off his association with drama at the tender age of 10. “It was not passion or enthusiasm which made me an actor. It was to save my family from poverty that I had to don the role of a drama artiste,” Muhammad goes down memory lane. In his words every artiste should be moulded from the street. “As far as I know the street is the best university,” he says.
“Sometimes a pat on the shoulder or a smile on the face of the spectator is more than enough to instill confidence in me,” says the vibrant actor. “There were times when I was asked to appear before the audience without any proper rehearsal. But somehow I was able to perform well,” he says. Awards and accolades are not new to the experienced drama artiste, who has received the state award for the best supporting actor twice and the special jury award for the best actor once. His performance as Abdu Rahiman in Upaharam, directed by Ibrahim Vengara, earned him the state award in 1990, while the role of Gandhikuttappan in the drama Rashtrapithavu made him eligible for the state award for the second best male actor in 2007.
Skillfully combining pathos and humour in performance, he immortalised several characters. He has also made his presence felt on the big screen. “It was a surprise for me when I was called to act in the films Kathaparayumbol and Kunjananthante Kada,” he says. When asked what media made him comfortable while performing, without a second thought he says, “It is obviously drama.” In the 1980s, Muhammad had the privilege to be part of Madhavi Varma, the only drama penned by Madhavikkutty (Kamala Surayya). “I still remember the character Brain Tumor Abdulla in Madhavi Varma,” he says. When asked about his age, he says with a mischievous smile, “It is difficult for me to calculate my exact age. The only thing that I have heard about my date of birth is that I was born on a day when my neighbour cut his mango tree.” Muhammad was part of the Kozhikode Chiranthana, Thiruvananthapuram Aksharakala, Changanassery Aniyara, Kozhikode Sagar Communications and many other troupes. About the present youths, he says a drama actor can play a vital role in redirecting youths who go astray.