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Plotting divorce


WELL PLAYED: Suveeran made 'Byari' with a budget of just Rs 50 lakh

KP Suveeran is a bit surprised that his debut feature film, Byari, was selected as Best Feature Film along with Marathi film Deool by the jury of this year's national awards. "I was hoping that at best my film (the first ever in the 'endangered' Beary language spoken by a few lakh people from the Beary/Byari Muslim community of south Kannada) would be selected as the best regional film, " he says. "But the award will certainly give me the momentum to complete the projects I have been working on. "

Not many in Kerala's film industry would have imagined that this 45-year old bohemian theatre activist from the sleepy village of Ayyur in Kozhikkode district would script a film success story in so short a time. True, Suveeran has made a few short films and telefilms, some of which have even won awards, but his primary sphere of artistic expression has been theatre. He is at home in every facet of theatre, be it scripting, stage design, acting or direction, and his theatre productions are rich with striking visuals and vibrant and fast-moving sequences. Though unassuming in person, he is sharp in his expressions and his plays abound with energy.

Suveeran, who studied theatre at Calicut University's School of Drama, Pondicherry University and the renowned National School of Drama in New Delhi, has staged a range of plays, among them Malayalam adaptations of Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Karl Georg Buchner's Woyzeck, Lorca's Yerma and Vijay Tendulkar's Vultures. So, what does he feel is the difference between theatre and cinema acting? "Theatre is centred around the actor, whereas in films acting has limited significance;there, it is more of 'behaving', " he says.

With the new-found acclaim, will he abandon theatre for cinema? "Theatre gives you a lot of excitement and a feeling of flowering at a personal level, but it is alive only during the time of performance and cannot be preserved in its full intensity for long, " he says. "As you evolve and feel that you have to communicate some of your own unique discoveries on the truths of life, you want a larger audience and one that transcend the limits of time. Film offers this potential. However, I want to take theatre and film together;both are dear to me. Great directors like Ritwik Ghatak and Bergman have done this. "

Byari happened all of a sudden, says the director. The 100-minute film, which was made on a budget of approximately around Rs 50 lakh, is about a Muslim woman who is set for remarriage with a man from whom she is divorced. "According to the Islamic tradition, she has to undergo a marukkalyanam (second marriage) with another man before getting remarried to her earlier husband, " explains Suveeran. "Second marriages such as these are often conducted as token ceremonies with an old man, without sexual relations entering the picture. However, the protagonist of Byari, a very devout woman, says that as the Quran ordains that the second marriage must involve sexual relations, she will not "cheat" God. She decides to have sexual relations with the 'token husband' as originally suggested in the Quran. "
Suveeran is currently working on two projects in Malayalam. "One of them is being written by Malayalam actor-director scriptwriter Sreenivasan and I will script the other, " he says.

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