Students of Vidhya Niketan Schools, Coimbatore, analyse the relevance of mythology in a play staged in the Capital
For a play staged by school students, between classes VIII and XII, it’s heartening to see performances and clever lines carrying things forward. Costumes were kept simple and homogenous, and there were no stage props, unless one was counting two pairs of goggles that kept changing hands throughout. Mythology… Point ya No Point?, staged at Shri Ram Centre in New Delhi by students of Vidhya Niketan Schools, Coimbatore, revisited episodes from epics like Ramayana and the Mahabharata, interpreting them in new vocabulary and analysing their relevance in today’s world.
Staged in an ensemble style, narrators turning into actors and vice-versa after 10-second freeze frames, Mythology… was directed by Yog Japee of Chennai-based theatre company Theatre Y, who has been working with the school’s theatre club since 2009.
The play began with an enactment of the legend of Shravan Kumar, the model son of blind parents, who was shot in the forest by king Dashrath, who mistook him for a wild animal. The curse that Shravan’s blind mother (wearing a pair of the aforementioned goggles) throws at the king is then shown as manifesting itself when Kaikeyi demands Bharat’s coronation and Ram’s banishment from the kingdom.
Elements from present pop culture were interspersed regularly. “Two minutes!” says Ram, when Sita announces that lunch is ready, while “Dhinka chika” (from Salman Khan-starrer Ready) accompanies Marichha’s run in the forest when he’s disguised as the golden deer that Sita sets her eyes on.
A “what-if scenario” follows, wherein an alternative situation is imagined and enacted in fast-forward.
What if Dashrath had not gone hunting? What if Sita, telling Ram that wild things belong in the wild, had not wanted the golden deer? To put it simply, what if certain things had just not happened?
There’s the gambling scene from the Mahabharata where Duryodhana is trying to convince Yudhisthir to raise the stakes. “Go play cricket or something else,” says an annoyed Gandhari. “Nowadays there’s gambling in cricket, too,” Duryodhana smirks. Then again, what if they had not gambled at all, or played just for the fun of it?
An episode from the Ramayana, wherein a physician from Lanka comes up with a cure for Lakshman’s wound, is used to illustrate how duty comes before all else — in this specific case at the time of helping victims of a road accident. The “boulder” who caused the accident being a smirking little fellow.