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From Street Theatre to London Stage

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Balu Pillai

Without any formal training in theatre, Balu Pillai honed his acting skills through street theatre in Kerala. “It’s the passion for theatre that brought me on stage in London. I am doing what I love so passionately,” Balu told Rajitha Saleem….

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Balu Pillai
Balu Pillai

It is not an ordinary feat to present the character of Jnanpeeth Award winner Thakashi Siva Sankara Pillai’s famous character Pareekutty on stage, as the character played by legendary actor Madhu in the famous film Chemmeen is etched in everybody’s mind.  But when Balu Pillai donned the character on stage for the recently held drama Kanti, it took the audience to that erstwhile magic of Ramu Karyat.

“It’s the passion for theatre that brought me on stage here in the UK, and then when we are doing what we love so passionately, nothing else matters,” said Balu Pillai. He has lived on stage as Pareekutty for both the staging of Kanti, which portrays the difficulties women have to suffer in society in the name of love. Balu was representing the theatrical adaptation of 60s Malayalam film Chemmeen on stage for the anthology Kanti, which took one through a journey of Malayalam films from 1950s to the present day.

Balu Pillai
Balu Pillai

“It gives me immense pleasure and mental satisfaction, when I am on stage presenting the characters I love. It makes me forget about all other considerations then,” said the ardent lover of poetry.  Balu’s rendition of poems are famous amongst many a literary gatherings in the Malayalee community.

“We were all a little sceptical about the concept of Kanthi when it came for discussion initially. To present so many different excerpts from various films and to bring them together on a single thread seemed impossible. But true to the belief of Manoj Shiva who conceived and directed Kanthi, the output was magical,” added a beaming Balu. In addition to the character of Pareekutty, Balu also acted as one of the high caste people in representation of the film `Celluloid.’

Without any formal training in theatre, this young father draws his courage from the 10-15 street plays he was instrumental in presenting throughout Kerala.

“Presenting those street plays were a different experience than a formal stage presentation. To go amidst the people and present an idea, without much planning where the response is instant is indeed challenging as well as evolving. There were times when the people participation surprises you,” said Balu.

A gifted actor who has represented his college at the University level drama competitions, Balu found his passion blossoming in UK with his association with dramas such as `Swati Vedham’ and `Guru Bhrahma’.

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