The play depicted the virtuous life of king Harischandra.
The South Indian Cultural Association (SICA) organised the staging of Telugu mythological drama Satya Harischandra on Monday at Ravindra Bharati, as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations. Written by Balijepalli Lakshmikantha Kavi, the playis said to have inspired Mahatma Gandhi for its theme. Some of the verses, especially those rendered by Harischandra are still popular. Some verses written by eminent poet Jashua, also made way into this production.
The cast included leading theatre artistes Gummadi Gopala Krishna, in the role of Harischandra, Jamuna Rayalu of Surabhi as Chandramati and Jagan Kumar of Tenali, who appeared as Nakshatraka.
Fulfilling a promise
The play begins at Varanasi (Kasi) with Harischandra, his wife Chandramati and son Lohitasya.The basic story that was not presented, gives reasons as to how Harischandra lost his kingdom to sage Viswamitra and goes to forests with a promise that he would raise the money he promised to give the sage. To collect the money from Harischandra, Viswamitra sends his disciple Nakshatraka. Harischandra first sells away his wife, then son Lohitasya to a Brahmin, Kalakousika (Malladi Bhasker). . ThenNakshatraka sells Harischandra to Veerabahu (Surabhi Raghubabu), who is a cremator. The verses rendered byHarischandra at this juncture form theessence of this whole drama. The lines were versed inphilosophyon human life. Gummadi received applause for the rendition of these verses.
Twist in tale
The story takes a turn when Chandramati brings her dead son to the cremationgrounds. She has no money to pay for the rituals. Harischandra recognises his wife and dead son but does his duty and demands money for cremation. When Chandramatiis wrongly implicated in a theft case by the local king,he orders Harischandra to chop Chandramati’s head. As Harischandra gets ready to behead her, Lord Siva appears with his consort Parvati and reveals that all this drama was played up by Viswamitra only to prove that Harischandra is a truthful person.
Little Gowthami of Surabhi family played the role of Lohitasya. Gummadi took care in presenting apt sets for the temple and forest scenes, and then the cremation grounds.
Surabhi Raghu Babu as Veerabahudu presented his role with good sense for humour to provide relief. Jagankumar of Tenali in the role of Nakshatraka rendered the verses impressively. Jamuna Rayalu practically lived the role of Chandramati. Indeed this was a laudable production.G.S.