With a hard-hitting play, the Navarang Theatre group here proved last week that perhaps artists are in the forefront in telling the post-COVID-19 society about the importance of maintaining vigil against excessive use of force by those in power.

The play Kando Ningal, Ente Kuttiye? (Did You See My Son?), penned by Civic Chandran and directed by Kannan Palakkad for the Navarang Theatre, touched many a heart. The work was enacted so powerfully by Sethu Kandanakam and others that it transported the audience back to the dark days of the Emergency.

The one-hour staging displayed the struggles of T.V. Eachara Warrier, the rights campaigner who famously fought for his son Rajan who was allegedly tortured and killed in police custody during the Emergency.

The audience opined that Mr. Sethu nearly imbibed the spirit of Prof. Warrier and portrayed the pain of every father who goes in search of his offspring. Writer Raghunathan Parali said Mr. Sethu did justice to Eachara Warrier. “However, the play could have taken the theme further to the contemporary period to reflect how the State misuses its powers,” he said.

Theatre artiste Asokam Rajeevam said the audience vicariously experienced the performance rather than merely watching it. “That’s the success of a play. Even the very title can stab you like a dagger,” he added.

Theatre artist S.V. Prem pointed out that Mr. Sethu breathed life into the real-life story of Eachara Warrier years after filmmaker Shaji N Karun’s 1989 award-winning movie Piravi that was based on him. “It was as if something struck me in the throat,” he said of the experience of watching the poignant play.

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