ME GRANDAD ‘AD AN ELEPHANT!
“Me Grandad 'Ad An Elephant!”. Quite weird name, and took me a while to remember. Was that just me or it happened to others too.. I wonder!
I was recommended this one by someone when it played last at Prithvi (if I am not mistaken) but I could not make it then. So, NCPA, 7pm show on Friday was perfect, given the fact that my workplace is just across the road.
Me Grandad.. is an adaptation of Vaikom Mohammad Basheer's story of the same name. It is a simple story of a Malayali Muslim family in a village from North Malabar. The central character of the story is this young girl of marriageable age. The story revolves around her desires and her conservative Muslim family’s (especially her mother) expectations from her and the changing equations of the relations with downfall of family fortune. It is a very simple story but very beautifully presented by NOT QUITE THERE & HI9H-POT-IN-USE-TRI-AN9LE.
The play begins with introduction of riches of the family of Kunjupattuma (Ahlam Khan) and her family members and the elephant that belonged to Kunjupattuma’s maternal grandand. Initial part of the play which goes on and on about the elephant gets a little annoying but as the story progresses the reference becomes interesting and relevant to the undercurrents of the story.
As the father (played by Aakarsh Khurana that day) loses his fortune to a dispute with his sisters, the mother (Ayesha Raza) starts losing her mind. The darling daughter Kunjupattuma, is no more darling daughter, she becomes the root cause of all the misfortune.
Ahlam Khan’s character is of an innocent, ignorant young girl who is brought up on the stories of how she will marry the best and spend all her life with him. Her ultimate goal is to be able wear a saree and bodice and bear children of “the one” she is destined to marry. However, as the father loses his fortune, her marriage prospects become bleak and her mother’s tantrums add to her misery. The journey of Kunjupattuma from a rich, carefree girl to a poor, responsible yet ignorant girl who falls for a young educated guy in neighbourhood was wonderful. The moments between her and Nisar were so very endearing.
Ayesha Raza, as Kunjupattuma ‘s mother was fantastic. She plays beautifully the character of a spoilt daughter of a rich and respectable man of village, who cannot cope up with the downfall of fortune. She is unable to forget the days of her past glory and makes life miserable for her family. But, the audience does not hate her; she gets all sympathy from us.
Zafer Karachiwala and Dilshad Ebrahim’s entry bring pace to rather slow moving story. Zafar as Nisar Ahmed was fantastic. It was heart-warming to see his relationship with Kunjupattuma who is hardly educated as against his educational and cultural background. He is protective towards Kunjupattuma be it when she falls in a pit while saving a sparrow or be it when her mother attempts to get her free from clutches of “bad spirits” with help of a witch doctor. The chemistry between the Nisar and Kunjupattuma exudes warmth.
Dilshad as Nisar’s teenager sister studying B.A. was just superb. She brings the stage to life with her innocence and pranks. She was just fantastic when she realises that her brother and her newfound best friend are in love and her friend would be in a position of authority over her by virtue of that relationship. The entire audience was in splits with her outburst of emotions.
I would have loved to watch Tom Alter playing the father but Aakarsh was as dignified. Especially, in his encounter with Nisar, where he is trying to protect honor of his wife though he is ashamed of her behaviour.
The story was well supported by the chorus of narrators. A special mention to them because without them the story would not have moved ahead. They all were so cute, especially each time the elephant’s reference came.
What I also liked about the story is that it makes subtle comments on the Muslim community in Kerala. It shows the conflict not only between Hindu and Muslims but also within the community between the progressive and orthodox faction. However, while doing this it is nowhere preachy or provocative. The commentary just goes with the flow of the story.
There were some beautiful light effects, especially the scenes by the water lily pond. The sound and choreography was catchy. The set was very simple and the transitions were super smooth.
Overall, it was really an enjoyable evening watching this musical story of Kunjupattuma.