We excel in concepts but not as much in execution. The A.P. State Cultural Council recently moved to pay tribute to that historical fairytale figure in whose name rose a city called Bhagyanagar, loosely translated into Urdu as Hyderabad (the abode of Hyder). She was the beloved queen of Quli Qutb Shah, a Hindu woman famed for her beauty, reputation in fine arts and intelligence. After Quli Qutb Shah's demise, her existence was wiped out of the annals of Qutb Shahi kings and Bhagmati was relegated to some sort of an enigmatic figure, romanticised by later day poets and writers on one side and on the other, extremely devoid of identity and dubbed by some historians as a fictitious character created by artistic minds.
Her romance with the prince of Golconda, Quli Qutb Shah, a great poet himself, has been the subject of literature, dance and drama. And this is precisely the essence of Bhagyanagaram, a literary dance drama staged at Ravindra Bharati on the occasion of the 400th year of Bhagmati, who died in 1610.
Period costumes, make-up and well thought-out backdrop (but for improper lighting) were all in place, making for the periphery enhancements. Former danseuse Madhavimala and Ajay Kumar (as Bhagmati and Quli Qutb Shah) looked credible in their roles. But the dance was rather insipid. A little more vigour in footwork and movement would have lifted the whole play to a newer high. The music score by Sasi Preetam was easy on the ear. The dialogues and lyrics were in keeping with the times and situation. All the characters were in tune with their respective roles, from dialogue delivery to dress sense.
The sequence of events was in line with the story, despite odd gaps for want of speedy scene alterations. Excusable, as the overall impression was one of grand romance culminating in the building of an architecturally beautiful ‘old' city, the remnants of which today is just the Char Kaman, Charminar and Gulzar Houz. Sad but real. Bhagmati's tomb is mired in controversy.
The major setback which our cultural council should look into is to have an authentic version of history if possible when trying to portray historical lore on stage. Ancient documents lying with old royal families have it in them that Bhagmati was not a courtesan or even a dancer as was depicted. She was a beautiful girl of Chichelum village (now in Rein Bazar limits) belonging to a Hindu family. There is huge painting of her going to a temple when she was first spied by the prince in many an old art gallery. There is no mention of a ‘sister' as seen in the dance drama.
The script writer has obviously confused Taramati-Premavati of Abul Hassan Tanasha's court with Bhagmati as the first scene depicted. However fictitious one wants to recreate history, certain facts like characters and their placements cannot be tampered with. If such things could be righted, we would be proud to celebrate the memory of a great romance of the royals who ruled the Deccan 500 years ago.