Plays with different themes in four languages made Dakshina Natakotsav memorable.
The people of Visakhapatnam were treated to a rich and varied fare of theatre art by the National School of Drama (NSD), Bangalore centre, which organized the Dakshina Natakotsav, from July 5 to10 at the Kalabharathi auditorium.
Six play productions in four southern languages, Mayabazar and Kabir Das in Telugu, Gokul Nirgamana in Kannada, Kuthirai Muttai in Tamil and Pravaachaka and Karnabharanam in Malayalam were staged.
The essential feature of drama, as distinct from cinema, is the presence of all the protagonists on-stage which strikes an immediate rapport between the actors and audience. This was evident from the packed audience and the rapt attention, interrupted only by the intermittent and thunderous applause, with which they witnessed all the six plays.
Variety of themes, dazzling and glittering costumes, rich and rhythmic literary constructions, amazing sets that left the audience astounded and flawless performances by the professional artistes made the show a memorable one. While the themes of Mayabazar, Gokul Nirgamana and Karnabharanam are well known and were taken from the epics, Kuthirai Muttai (Horse’s egg) had a hilarious social theme. The theme of Pravachaka was based on a Greek myth. Kabir Das was the story of an ardent devotee of Rama.
The theatre extravaganza started with a bang when the Surabhi troupe, a household name in Andhra Pradesh, exhibited their talents, and mesmerising and magical sets with aplomb in Mayabazar. The divine sage Narada descending to the earth from the moving clouds, with shining stars and a crescent moon forming the background, singing the song pangs of separation, by Sasirekha and Abhimnayu, along with the special effects such as the fire spewing mace getting defused by the water showering arrow left the audience astounded.
Gokula Nirgamana, a tale of the platonic love that Gopala (Krishna) showered on Gopikas and Gopakas, had unbridled fun and frolic which was tastefully exhibited on-stage. The plays Kabir Das and Karnabharam revealed shades of contemporary problems that plague our society. The play Kabir Das starts with a conflict between Hindus and Muslims regarding the roots of the great saint. It also depicts his struggle from the mundane things and his yearning for the spiritual. Ultimately it conveys the message that all human being are one.
Similarly in Karnabharanam, the mental torture and agony that Karna had to undergo because of his birth and the humiliations that were heaped on him despite his unmatched military prowess, was brilliantly executed by the Lokadarshi troupe. It was directed by Chandradasan. Kuthurai Muttai, a hilarious Tamil play had striking similarities with a number of episodes of Parasmaanandayya Sishulu in Telugu. The only difference is, unlike in the Telugu version in which the Guru is a scholar, in Kuthuirai Muttai, the Guru is as foolish and stupid as the sishyas are.
The Malayalam play Pravachaka dealt with women empowerment. It was an all-women play, written and directed by Rajarajeswari and C.V. Sudhi respectively. It was staged by the only women theatre group in Kerala, Nereeksha. Mention must be made of the audience for witnessing the plays with decorum. As requested by the managers they had switched off their cell phones to ensure that there were no distractions. The organisers should also be congratulated for maintaining punctuality. Chatla Sriramulu, theatre director, Hyderabad, Prof. Devendra Raj Ankur, Chairman, Extension Programmes, NSD, New Delhi, C.S.N.Raju, founder president of Kalabharathi and Badamgeer Sai, deserve praise for organising such a memorable drama fare.