Mythology is so integral to Telugu verse drama that even a fictitious episode like the popular verse drama Gayopakhyanam bears an eloquent testimony to it. Penned by Chilakamarthi, a front-ranking playwright of previous century, it continues to sway the audience beyond urban and rural divide. Staged by the artistes of Sri Sai Kala Niketan at Premasamajam Auditorium Visakhapatnam, it evoked warm response.

It deals with an armed conflict between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Though not found in the original text of Mahabharata and a fictitious theme born out of Chilakamarthi’s fecund imagination, it has been a roaring success down decades thanks to superlative treatment of the theme and lucid verses of intense dramatic appeal. The thread goes thus; Gaya, a Gandharva king flying in aircraft spits and it falls in the hands of Lord Krishna, while oblations to Sun God. An infuriated Krishna vows to exterminate the offender before sundown.

On learning about this terrible vow, Gaya, devotee of the Lord, runs for refuge in all three worlds but in vain. Finally on the advice of sage Narada, he goes to Arjuna. He first seeks the protection of Arjuna and then reveals the impending peril. Though terribly upset at the prospect of clashing swords with his mentor, bound by word, Arjuna stands by Gaya. In the terrible battle that ensues, both Krishna and Arjuna spare no weapon in their quiver. When it comes to final show down they are about to unleash the ultimate power against each other, the fairies intervene and pacify them. Lord Krishna reveals all this was of his making with a view to test the efficacy of Arjuna’s martial prowess before going to great war at Kurukshetra.

Agony of a mind wedged between unswerving commitment to one’s word and a friend, philosopher and guide found good expression in the portrayal of Arjuna by B Taveti Raju and M Sriramulu Naidu donned the role of Krishna with aplomb. Kotamsetti Apparao, BA Baidu, B Balakrishna, D Jaggarao and others did well. B Vijayasai and Ella Apparao on harmonium and K Bhadramrao on table lent good support.