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Pondy drama goes to Nandikar

Kavita Kishore
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Based on Ramayana:A scene from the play Manthiran by Thalaikkol theatre group.Photo Special Arrangement
Based on Ramayana:A scene from the play Manthiran by Thalaikkol theatre group.Photo Special Arrangement

Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevi hill to Lanka to save Rama and Lakshmana who died in the war against the Asuras is a story that is familiar to most people in the country. Switch to the modern day war in Sri Lanka. “Who is the Hanuman who will bring the Sanjeevi hill to revive the people killed in the war,” asks playwright V. Arumugham.

The interplay of the modern with the ancient is what forms the basis of the play ‘Manthiran’ by Thalai-k-kol theatre group, which will be showcased at the 30{+t}{+h}Nandikar National Theatre Festival in Kolkata on December 21.

The play tells a very basic story of Hanuman’s journey with the Sanjeevi hill and virtually all the lines have been taken directly from the Kamba Ramayana. But the audience can clearly see how these dialogues and the same story could have taken place in the modern world as well.

The idea for the story came at the beginning of the Sri Lankan Civil War, but it took a while to come to life. Finally, the play became a reality with a grant from the Ministry of Culture for Rs. 4 lakh.

Much of the money has been used for the sets on the play. There are also some special effects such as a flying cage when Sita is brought in to see that Rama and Lakshmana have died .and a Hanuman who Hanuman flies. A large part of the play parodies the original story in the Ramayana, but the parody brings out the stark reality of the modern world and the kind of damage that war does.

Another major issue that is brought up through the play is the damage to the forests and the mountains by quarrying and rampant deforestation, he said.

There are a total of 22 people who have worked on the play, including the 14 actors who appear on the stage. Two of the people are from the Surabhi Theatre Group in Andhra Pradesh who helped us with the special effects.

Manthiran was first performed on July 29 at the Pondicherry University Cultural Complex. Since then it has been showcased in the National Theatre Festival in Puducherry and then on the 25{+t}{+h}anniversary celebrations of Thalai-k-Kol.

Manthiran is one of the 18 plays selected for the Nandikar festival that started on December 16. The play will be performed on December 21. On December 29, the play will be performed at the Bharat Nivas in Auroville.

The play will be showcased at the Nandikar National Theatre Festival, Kolkata


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