Sharp as sunrays
Neena Gupta's performance in the role of a tormented queen was remarkable
After watching Shahaj Productions' Soorya Ki Antim Kiran Se Soorya Ki Pehli Kiran Tak, one can't decide which face shows more agony that of King Okkak (Rajendra Gupta) who has to accept that the world knows he is impotent, or of Queen Sheelvati (Neena Gupta) who realises that a joy she has discovered is not hers forever.
The play, based on a 30-year-old story by Surendra Verma, is as relevant today.
The play opens with the royal assistants Mahattarika (Shamim Sheikh) and Paricharika ( Sunita chand) discussing their Queen's feelings as she prepares for Niyog. The ancient law dictates that a king, if impotent, must allow his wife to spend a night with another man of royal descent so that there may be an heir to the throne.
Director Rajendra Gupta, an alumnus of National School of Drama, had the audience sympathising with his character, the frustrated king. Flawless lines brought out the feelings of a man torn between duty and self.
Neena Gupta's portrayal of a dutiful wife pleading with her husband to understand how she feels about the barbaric law could not have been better. Her behaviour after her night out, as one intoxicated with love, was even more memorable.
The play touched upon several issues. Is motherhood the only proof of femininity? Is society right in prescribing marriage as a panacea for all ills including impotency?
With understated tones of sex, the play retained the gravity of the situation, rather than treat the theme of lawful adultery as titillation. Brought to Bangalore by CDL in the Theatre That Matters series, the play stood out for its superbly rendered dialogues, flawless cast, Vishnu Sharma's voice (as royal advisor Mahamatya). Simple set design and rich costumes gave the play its 6th Century regality.
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