TRIPUNITHURA: Pronouncing the word ‘budhimuttu’ (difficulty) proved to be a hard nut to crack for theatre artist Maradu Joseph.
Despite his guru, the late maestro P J Antony, asking Joseph to rehearse it repeatedly, Joseph failed miserably.
A visibly angry Antony beat him black and blue in front of jeering fellow artists.
Joseph, who fell down unconscious, had to be hospitalised.
He returned to the rehearsal camp with a steely resolve to improve his pronunciation.
His efforts bore fruit.
Till date, he has been regarded as one of the best in the troupe.
“The comeback was not only to the rehearsal camp but to my 61 years of career as a professional theatre artist,” reminiscences Joseph who was honoured by the state government for his lifetime contributions to drama.
The 81-year-old thespian fondly remembers the days when he started his career as a theatre artist for a paltry remuneration of `5.
“I am indebted to my father, Xaviour, who is also a drama artist and my biggest inspiration.
I use to watch his plays during my childhood.
Plays would be staged in the local church after the Sunday classes.
I remember my father’s performance in ‘Mary Magdalana’ held at our church.
I was studying in Class IV.
That day I decided to become a theatre artist,” he recalls.
Joseph, who took fledgling steps in theatre with his father by his side, later took huge strides portraying mature characters.
Drama has been a passion than a profession for the veteran who has worked with almost all eminent theatre personalities, including P J Antony, N N Pillai, Ponkunnam Varkey, N Govindan Kutty and Thoppil Bhasi.
Those days, his troupe used to stage more than 150 performances annually, Joseph remembers.
However, the veteran still lives in rented house.
That the state government has honoured him in the twilight of his career is a late consolation for the genius.
Joseph hopes one day drama will make a strong comeback.
“The present generation is fed up of watching stereotyped soap operas and box-office movies will definitely revive the lost glory of theatre,” he hopes.