Devadas Kapikad will soon be celebrating the 25th anniversary of successful theatre life that commenced with “Bale Cha Parka,” his immensely popular Tulu comedy, the first ever play that he wrote, directed, and acted in. The play became a record breaker in the history of Tulu drama and its team was affectionately named “Cha Parka Team.” The name stuck although some of the actors dropped out and new actors were introduced in their places. In spite of all these changes in the team, Devadas Kapikad retained his original position in the Cha Parka troupe.
The efforts of Devadas Kapikad in making the Cha Parka team a household name in all the Tulu-speaking pockets of DK are indeed laudable. Popularly known as the comedy king, this talentedwriter, actor, and director has succeeded in popularizing Tulu theatre in a way that nobody else could. Kapikad is not known as the “comedy king” for nothing. He can make his audience rock with laughter, owing to which he has been aptly nicknamed “Thelikeda Bolli.” Kapikad has been making people laugh for nearly 25 years without fail; but his fans say that, although he makes them laugh, he makes them weep too at the end of his plays. This happens because Kapikad writes about burning, real-life social issues that people can understand and identify with. He hasadmitted that his plays, although packed with comedy, are intended to correct social behavior. His greatest inspiration is Kamal Hassan, the genius actor.
Kapikad – a Genius
No other word can describe Kapikad better than the word “genius.” Author of 43 plays on innumerable social issues, he can write, direct, act, and compose music with ease. Recently, he even forayed into the world of Kannada comedy and played an important role in the production of the Kannada film “Venkata in Sankata.” Kapikad is also known for his positive attitude toward life. He has never been known to weep over spilt milk or lament over opportunities lost. He, therefore, does not worry over the fact that he missed a role in Yogaraj Bhat’s Kannada blockbuster “Pancharangi” because he had already committed himself to Tulu theatre. In spite of his laudable achievements in the field of Tulu theatre, Kapikad modestly says that he feels he has not achieved anything remarkable, but says confidently that he has proved that making a career out of Tulu theatre is possible. He also has the satisfaction of having successfully silenced critics who had doubted his abilities and were waiting for him to fail.
Kapikad was just a high school kid when he realized that he had the ability to make people laugh. He, therefore, penned a short drama for the school stage called “Ananda Baashpa” when he was in the VIII Std. When he was an SSLC student, the Akashdeep Friends Club of Bejai requested him to write a play for their annual day celebrations. Under the guidance and inspiration of his teacher, senior Tulu theatre artiste B. V. Kirodian, Kapikad wrote “Ellayaye Mallaye” and also played a lead role in it. The play was a roaring success and greatly impressed his teacher and mentor Kirodian.
Bale Cha Parka
The Padavu Friends Club of Shaktinagar requested Kapikad to write a play for their anniversary celebrations, in response to which Kapikad wrote a 3-hour play “Yaan Mallaye,” which became immensely popular. Kapikad began toying with the idea of staging it in Town Hall. He made some slight changes to the play, introduced into it prominent artistes such as V. G. Pal and Anand Bolar and retained promising young actors. The result was “Bale Cha Parka,” which created waves in the history of Tulu theatre. The play impressed Sadashiva Salian of Mumbai so much that he converted it into a Tulu film “Sathya Olunda,” directed by Arooru Pattabhi.Kapikad even played a role in this film.
During the Bale Cha Parka days, Devadas was still a student of University College. Bale Cha Parka was followed by “Gante Ethand” and “Eer Doora,” which became very popular. While still in college, he fell in love with college mate Sharmila and later married her. He declares that Sharmila is definitely the “woman behind his success.”
He gave up a lucrative job offer in Mysore because he wanted a career in Tulu theatre. “Eer Doora” was followed by silence owing to discord in the Cha Parka team; and for a brief period, Kapikad almost gave up Tulu theatre completely. However, he could not give up his love for Tulu drama and his wife Sharmila motivated him not to give up. She became the manager of the team, and after nearly one year, things began to get better.
Kapikad formed a new team of theatre artistes and never again considered giving up. He wrote, directed, and acted in 43 plays, of which the most popular are “Pudar Deethiji,” “Pudar Panodchi,” and “Dever Deelekkapund,” just to mention a few. He went on to stage shows all over India and the Gulf countries.
He says that his plays are all based on real-life incidents and that he gets the raw material for his play by conversing with people, watching television, and reading the newspapers. Sometimeseven a line of real-life conversation leads to a full-length play, he admits. For instance, Boobanna of Bale Cha Parka was created after a one-hour conversation with a deaf man, he said. Kapikad’s personal favourite is “Yanori Baroliya,” in which a deaf and dumb girl is waiting for someone to marry her, but nobody does. This play has brought tears into the eyes of those who watched it.
He said that he wanted to get involved in many related activities, owing to which he accepted offers from the film industry and played a role in the production of “Venkata in Sankata.” Some more movies, such as “Kaarthik,” are in the making and will soon be released. He said that he had avoided accepting too many offers in the past because he wanted to focus on Tulu theatre. He also confirmed that Tulu theatre will always be his first preference although he has started accepting offers from the film industry now.
In honour of the fact that Kapikad has offered classic comedy without an iota of vulgarity, an advertisement was placed in the local paper calling upon Kapikad fans to provide an apt title for him. Prof Amritha Someshwara was literally flooded with over 30,000 suggestions and he finally chose the title “Thelikeda Bolli” suggested by Chandrakala of Kulai. The title was conferred on Kapikad in the presence of innumerable fans at a public function held in Town Hall.
Kapikad is a happy and contented man; however, he is unhappy that he has not yet been able to complete a Tulu comedy “Pushpaka Vimana,” which has no dialogues. He is full of plans for the future though and wants to make a Tulu movie, for which he has already found a producer. He says that his wife Sharmila is responsible for the success of his team; and since she manages everything, he does not even know where the next show is scheduled. He happily manages the creative aspects of his work and leaves all the administrative tasks to her. Several artistes have left Kapikad’s team when he needed them the most, but this did not disappoint him. The artistes who left the team in the lurch were never taken back. 25th Anniversary Celebrations The Cha Parka team has arranged a public function to celebrate the 25th anniversary of life in Tulu theatre at Town Hall on Oct 9, 2010. Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari D. Veerendra Heggadewill inaugurate the programme.