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A communist who became doyen of theatre

A. Harikumar

His first dramawas staged when he was 16

ALAPPUZHA: S.L. Puram Sadanandan, the doyen of the theatre movement in the State and a noted film scriptwriter who passed away on Friday night, would have probably ended up as a Communist party leader but for the late Communist leader R. Sugathan.

Sugathan had noticed the talents of Sadanandan who was a firebrand communist worker. Once Sugathan asked Sadanandan to give more emphasis to the theatre field and use his artistic skills to propagate communist ideology. It was a turning point in Sadanandan's life. He earnestly took to the theatre. His first drama, Kudiyirakku, was staged when he was only 16 years old.

It was at that time that the Punnapra-Vayalar uprising occurred. Sadanandan actively participated in it and had to go underground to escape police arrest. During this time, he had close contacts with the founder of the Communist party in the State, P. Krishna Pillai. The Travancore police arrested Sadanandan and he had to spend a year in jail. Later, when he came out of jail, Sadanandan founded Kalpana Theatres at S.L. Puram. Several dramas of the theatre, including Oral Koodi Kallanayi and Vila Kuranja Munushyan, became hits. Sadanandan became active in the film field in the 1960s. The scripts written by him in the period included Chemmeen, Kavyamela, Oral Koodi Kallanayi and Agniputhri.

He returned to the theatre movement in the 1970s forming another drama troupe, Suryasoma. The drama Kattukuthira staged the troupe attracted widespread attention and ran packed houses. Other popular dramas of the troupe included Ennum Parakkuna Pakshi and Aayiram Chirakulla Moham.

He had won several awards including the Kerala Sahithya Akademi award for the drama Kakkapponnu, the silver medal of the Union Government for the script of the cinema Kavyamela and State Government awards for the script of the cinemas Oru Penninte Katha and Yavanika.

As the owner of the Sooryasoma drama troupe he was a tough taskmaster, says V. Mohanan, secretary of the troupe. He was particular that the actors should act as per his ideas but in his personal relations with them he was humane and always ensured that they were promptly paid.

Sadanandan withdrew himself from active politics following the split in the Communist party.

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