His characters seem right out of a rural milieu where life is designed by innocence and benevolence. They crack jokes, tend to household chores, and swoon their wives with endearing pet names. They tame the shrews with a handkerchief adorning their forehead and may even clinch a Bharat award on the way. The name ‘Balachandra Menon’ is sure to bring an instant smile on a Malayali face, for the simple yet adorable movies he had catered before them. With his signature nuances and unique story telling method Menon’s films are known for their endearing quality.
Even in the portrayals of staunch police officers, villainous lawyers and run-of-the-mill farmers one could easily denote the ‘Menonism’ in them. But even Menon in his reigning days, had to face many a critic’s wrath for his distinct style of film making. Keeping this in mind, Rajeev Gopalakrishnan and V S Ajayan are staging a play ‘Adv Balachandra Menon Prathikkoottil’ at VJT Hall on Friday. The play takes Menon to court, while dissecting his films before a discerning audience.
“If a person wants to succeed in his life one has to work hard and fight forward. Once he attains success, there could be many who would just assume that he has had it easy. He may have endured many hardships to reach there. He might be still nursing his past wounds at his lone time. But people would like to bring down another in any which way possible. We have taken this particular aspect of human nature and integrated Balachandra Menon in it,” says Ajayan, who is the director of the play.
A bunch of lawyers files a case against Balachandra Menon, when he plans to join the legal world as an advocate. They argue that Menon does not deserve to serve the court as his movies condescend lawyers. Advocates Unnithan, Viswanath, Vimala, Thomas and Nampoothiri question his motives. By screening his movie sequences, they blame Menon for using their names for characters and portraying them in a flawed manner. Scenes from Menon’s ‘Karyam Nissaram’, ‘April 18’, ‘Vilambaram’ and ‘Kilukilukkam’ act as aids to their arguments. But the opposing counsel, who appears for Menon, proves with his counter arguments that none of their accusations stand a chance. In the end Menon wins and makes an appearance as per the Judge’s order. Menon will give a speech before the audience in his inherent style.
“Rajeev and Ajayan are my very dear old friends so when they came to me with this idea I couldn’t refuse. The basic reason of course is their love for me. But when they brought the completed script some elements in it struck a chord with me. So I didn’t discourage them. I was not looking for anymore plaudits from anywhere else as I have had enough. But I liked their intention hence I have agreed to partake in it,” says Menon.
From Prof Aliyar, a regular face in Malayalam films and serials to Seena Swaminathan, a fresher, the play comprises a stellar cast.
“When we mentioned this idea to Aliyar sir, he immediately agreed. Others are mostly amateurs, who have regular jobs. I, myself is working with Raj Bhavan. But as this is a passion we all cherish, we got together to say something which we all felt very strongly about,” says Ajayan, who is planning to do a feature film in the near future.
Kalanidhi, a Centre for arts, culture and research, will present the play at VJT hall. Padma Shri Madhu will inaugurate the function at 5.00pm.