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Govind D. Belgaumkar
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THEATRE Looking at Sangya Balya from a woman’s perspective

A case for GangeeA scene from Gangee ParasangaPhoto: R.Eswarraj
A case for GangeeA scene from Gangee ParasangaPhoto: R.Eswarraj

An attempt to rethink ‘Sangya Balya’ from the women’s perspective was made by Rathabeedi Geleyaru, Udupi, through the play in its new avatar ‘Gangee Parasanga’ under the direction of Shridhar Bhat Sirsi, at Town Hall in Mangalore (February 18). It was organised as part of Ranga Vaibhava programme of All India Radio, Mangalore.

The story of ‘Sangya Balya’ in this production has undergone a change apparently because the playwright Abhilasha S. had no need not create sympathy for Gangee. In the original story Sangya entices Gangee, wife of a landlord, blackmailing her with a prized gold chain which she has lost in a village fair. In the present narrative, a more magnanimous Sangya willingly gives it back to her. But both develop genuine love for each other leading to Gangee’s husband Veerabhadra murdering Sangya with the help of Sangya’s best friend Balya. In the end Gangee leaves her husband’s house for good as her neighbour Paravva demands death for Veerabhadra before a court of law.

In fact, the narration comes as a flashback for the opening scene where Gangee’s husband is being tried for murder in a court where Paravva question’s his failure to be a loving and caring husband pushing lovelorn Gangee towards Sangya. Gangee and Paravva pair up to question anti-woman perspectives all along. When her morality is questioned, for example, Gangee tells her husband how her heart has begun to sing again after meeting Sangya. Explaining her solitude to Paravva she says she is like another household article, a stone worth nothing in the absence of a man caring for her feelings.

Paravva is blessed to have a husband who is caring though their love-hate relationship and provides some lighter moments as well. Paravva has no qualms in telling him how she would have abandoned him if he cared less for her. The saint, as the story has it, orders beheading of his wife Renuka by their son Parashuram. The rethinking could have been much more real if acting skills of performers was better. Particularly awkward were theatrics of Gangee’s husband (actor Santosh Nayak). However, the playwright in the role of Paravva impressed. Attempts to use North Karnatka accent was half-hearted. Lighting was good. Though lyrics and music have been used aptly to enhance the play’s appeal, music could have been better. It is easy to link the novel effort to the sharp focus the women’s issues have gained post-Delhi gang rape case.Govind D. Belgaumkar


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