Malayalam sitcom ‘Marimayam’, on air for nine years, bags its fourth Kerala State Television Award for the Best Comedy Programme

Without melodrama, sob sagas, sleaze and convoluted storylines, Marimayam, a sitcom telecast on Mazhavil Manorama, continues to hold its own among the plethora of programmes on Malayalam television. The show, which has been on air for nine years, won its fourth Kerala State Television Awards (2019) award for the Best Comedy Programme.

Over the years, four directors, several writers, and new actors have worked in the series telecast once a week. It clocked 455 episodes on September 25.

“It’s USP is themes and characters taken from real life. So viewers can easily relate to the series,” feels Midhun Chettoor, director of the episodes that won the State award now. “Some of the episodes were based on incidents and anecdotes that viewers had shared with us. Even though the show began by highlighting flaws within the system, especially in government offices, bureaucracy and private establishments, now it touches upon different aspects that affect the common man. For instance, we had episodes that were centred on how addiction to mobile phones changes the equation in families and misadventures with Google Map,” adds Midhun. As he has moved on to helm another programme on the channel, Vinod Nair has stepped in. Gokulan Manoj was another director of Marimayam.

Besides the regular line-up of writers such as Shihab Karunagappally, Vadukkumthala Sreekumar and Rajeev Karumady, newcomers have also pitched in. Shihab, with over 120 episodes to his credit, says that after a point it became important to feature topics outside the spectrum of government machinery to retain freshness in content. Like the one on an expert in online transactions, who, however, has no clue about filling forms manually at a bank.

Rajeev adds that the writers have developed a sense of responsibility towards the viewers. “So we have to ensure the veracity of facts, especially when dealing with government policies and schemes,” he avers. Not all the episodes end on a happy or humorous note. It is a reflection of the common man’s life and so not every story is expected to generate laughs, the writers point out.

Praise for actors

All the writers and the directors agree that it is the actors in Marimayam who have been the livewire of the series. “It is a delight to watch the seasoned performers. We don’t follow a written script most of the time. But the actors improvise at the right places, without going overboard,” says Midhun.

The names of the characters remain the same even when the storyline changes. So Sathyasheelan, Mandodari, Koya and Moidu are essayed by Manikandan Pattambi, Sneha Sreekumar, Niyas Backer and Vinod Kovoor respectively. These actors have also had the longest association with the series. “Realistic acting is the soul of Marimayam. I have been in it from the first episode. The credit for making the framework must go to our first director R Unnikrishnan. Instead of comedians in the cast, he opted for competent actors. May be, that’s why the show and the team clicked,” says Manikandan.

Manikandan Pattambi in an episode of ‘Marimayam’

Marimayam is Sneha Sreekumar’s first television show and it was even more special because the first episode, featuring her and Vinod, was shot at her own home at Kumbalam in Kochi. “Most of us have a background in theatre. That makes it easy for us to improvise. We have spot dubbing and the artistes are so much in sync with each other that we can anticipate each other’s reaction in every scene. That’s why the entry of new directors and writers have not affected our performances,” she says. Riyas Narmakala, Salim Hasan, VP Khalid and Mani Shornur are other actors in the cast. Actors Niyas and SP Sreekumar had won state television awards as well.

Marimayam is aired on Mazhavil Manorama at 10 pm on Fridays.