The play Nishidhakshari scored because of its impressive performances.
Written in the eighties by Patibandla Ananda Rao, Nishidhakshari, the play had all the energy to entertain. The performances were supported by an impressive make-up by Adabala. Its dialogues and mature performances by amateur actors drew repeated applause from the packed house of Ravindra Bharathi, where it was staged recently under the aegis of Snehita, a social and cultural organisation. The theme had an in-built structure of a flashback.
Bhageeratha Sastry is a monomaniac.
He believes in the Brahmanic traditions, prescribed in Manu Sastra. His daughter Arundhati falls in love with Vardhanam, who lives in the same compound. The house owner Mitra tries to change the mindset of Sastry. At this stage, enters a retired army man Erranna, who rents another portion of the same house. Knowing fully well that Sastry was not a person to yield to the marital proposal of Vardhamanam with Arundhati, Erranna starts narrating Sastry's past that that comes to us as a flashback. The story shifts to a village where Sastry was the ‘Dharmakarta' of the local temple. He and the head of the village Chengalrayudu preside over disputes in the village, where untouchability was rampant. Bagadi, (Venkayya) a harijan is dragged to the village court, becauseBagadi's son Chinnodu drank water from a well belonging to the upper caste people. He was first tied to a tree, later banned from the village, but is brought back as a dead person. Bagadi's brother Erranna, an army man, takes Chinnodu's younger brother Abbigadu into his protection. Days pass by and the story returns to Mitra's house. Vardhanam (who was Abbigadu as a child) and Erranna are present in the same house.Bagadi arrives at Sastry's place to meet Vardhanam. Arundhati too joins the bandwagon of reformists. Sastry changes his mindset and accepts the proposal.
The play ends with Sastry embracing Bagadi, symbolic of the end of the practice of untouchability.
There were many twists in the narrative, more so towards the end. Sivakumar as Bhagiradha Sastry gave an outstanding performance. Ramya as Arundhati stole the show with her outspokenness on the issues, facing her senile father. Another talented artiste Venkat Govada managed well with his improperly etched role of Bairagi Sastry. Basha, the director played the role of Vardhanam and performed well in the scenes where he proposes to Ramya and displays inferiority complex later in scenes with his father Bagadi.
The character of Mitra was the anchor was Balaramayya (IAS officer), who stuck to the idiom of drama and his performance was quite soothing and meaningful. Venkayya as Bagadi, the low caste man gave a moving performance from start to the end. Rajita Murthy as Erranna, the retired army man, was also at his best, in changing the psyche of both Sastry and selfish Vardhanam.
The role of a politician was played by Gnanasagar. This too lacked clarity. Trinatha Rao in the short role of Chinnodu as the innocent victim proved to be a very promising actor. The theme sounded a bit out-dated.