Nikhildas and Sagar Sathyan’s Play: Mali


Playwrights: Nikhildas Puranattukara & Sagar Sathyan
Director: Nikhildas Puranattukara
Group: Punchami Theatres, Thrissur
Language: Malayalam
Duration: 1 hr 15 mins

The Play
Mali is based on the folk culture of Kerala, as told through the songs and tale of the hero and the imaginary god Ayyappan. It begins with the description of a girl named Mali, and Chappan, a fighter who grew up in the jungle to defeat the hiding forces called Maravippada. Chappan learns the tactics and expertise from Vithari Mooppan and fights against Maravippada. He goes to meet his beloved Mali, but Mali asks him to come later since she is menstruating and therefore prohibited to meet anyone. Chappan is upset about this discrimination and tells her that now he will return for her only when the society gives up all such beliefs. Mali awaits his arrival, and when he doesn’t return, breaks away from all social taboos and restrictions and leaves home to enter the forest to find her love.

Director’s Note
The play begins with the resistance of people towards outside forces. A number of contemporary questions have been dealt with in this play, especially the ones dealing with discrimination. Why can’t a warrior have a spiritual quest? Is the reason to create superstitions and customs a deliberate attempt to keep them subdued and at a distance? The play is based on folk tales and folk songs heard from the dalits of Sabarimala Sasthav, popular in Kerala. Live music related to Ayyappan is incorporated into the play.

The Director & Playwright
Nikhildas Puranattukara has received the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Academy Award for Best Director and Writer in 2019 for the play Mali. His children’s plays have won accolades at the Kerala state youth festival during the last three years. Nikhildas has staged plays at national and international platforms like National School of Drama Theatre Festival, International Theatre Festival of Kerala, Bharat Rang Mahotsav, Rangayan Festival, Cuttack National Theatre Festival etc. He has adapted renowned writer Uroob’s celebrated work Neelakuyil into a play. He was the director of Lavettam theatre camp in Perth, Australia; and Kalithattu theatre camp in Bombay. He is associated with Thrissur based theatre group Rangachetana and his own theatre group Punchami theatres. Some of his popular productions are Marathalayan, Manabave, Kunnukalkkumappuram, Palaharapanthayam, Markkadapuranam etc.

The Co-Playwright
Sagar Sathyan has been active in cinema and theatre for the past few years and has made remarkable contributions to both. He has been a part of Rangachetana, a well-known theatre group in Thrissur, and has written four plays directed by Nikhildas Puranattukara. Sagar has also written the script of a Malayalam feature film Ladoo which was released last year.

The Group
Punchami Theatres is a group of young people who have been studying drama and are engaged in theatre activities. Everyone in the group finds time for theatrical work while practicing his/her routine work. Mali is the first theatre project of Panchami Theatres. It won the Best Play award at the Kerala Sangeet Natak Academy’s amateur drama competition, and also the Best Actress, Best Director and Best Writing awards. A number of colleges of Kerala participate in theatre activities under the banner of Panchami Theatres. The centre of the group is in Adat, a village in Thrissur district of Kerala.

Cast & Credits
Mali                                       Athira
Karuthi                                  Anusha Bahuleyan
Mahishi                                 Mekha Manoj
Chappan                               Anand
Vithari Mooppan                   Sathyajith
Kandan                                 Ramkumar
Kormi                                     Akhilesh Paliyan
Rajavu                                  Ramadas
Vendoran                              Sajith Alukkal
Villan                                    Appu K.G
Kadutha                                Athul
Mallan                                   Kiran
Karuppan                               Abhishek
Moothoru                               Henson
Kappatharu                            Josprakash
Vaidhyar                                Vishnu
Padayali                               Ramesh Ramakrishnan

Light                                     Dhaneshkumar
Art                                        Shinoj Asokan
Co-ordinator                         Mejo
Music                                    Midhun Malayalam
Instruments                           Manikandan
Make-up                                 Francis Chirayath
Costumes                             Anjali Raman, Leela Sathyan
Light                                     Assistant Gokul
Art Assistant                        Mornima Dhanesh
Assistant Director                  Nijildas

Playwrights                       Nikhildas Puranattukara, Sagar Sathyan
Director                           Nikhildas Puranattukara

Punchami Theatres
Adat, P.O Thrissur, Kerala 680551
M: +91 9745260825, 9946302016


Prof. Khushalani’s review of the play and interview with director –

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is a former Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he taught were: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won a total of nine Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Earlier he retired from Government of India as Director Environment Management, Central Water Commission and held many senior positions in the Government Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He was an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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