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Giriraj brings K Shivarama Karanth’s iconic 1937 novel, Sarasammana Samadhi, on stage

K Shivarama Karanth’s novel, Sarasammana Samadhi, is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1937. “Karanth’s thoughts on feminism will be presented on stage in Ashvagosha Theatre Trust’s Maasthi Kallu,” says Giriraj BM, the playwright and director of the play.

Giriraj, who has won State awards for his films Jatta, Mythri and Amaraavti, has directed superstars including Mohan Lal and Punith Rajkumar, trained many young heroes of the Kannada film industry and has been part of the faculty of cinema schools of Nagathihalli Chandrashekar and Gurudeshpande.

Sarasammana Samadhi tells the story of a couple’s inability to understand each other against the backdrop of blind beliefs and orthodoxy. “The women of the village visit the Sarasamma’s grave offering her water and coconut in the hope that she will solve their relationship problems. Bringing the play alive on stage in a way to connect with millennial audience was also a challenge,” says Giriraj. Karanth’s novel which won a Sahitya Akademi Award offers a searing account of the suffering and humiliation Indian women went through in the hands of patriarchy that was prevalent across caste and class. “The novel also addresses Sati and marriage,” says Giriraj who read the novel when R Nagesh wanted to do a serial based on it 18 years ago. “The novel moved me as it dealt with complex topics with simple, accessible dialogues.”

Giriraj was happy that Ashvagosha approached him to adapt and direct the novel for stage as the story had marinated in his psyche for nearly two decades. Giriraj adapted the novel for stage in three days. “I did spend a lot of time on rehearsals steering the 22 actors through the 90-minute production, as both the serious and comic sections had to be subtly balanced to do justice to the book.”

Managing a large cast came easy to Giriraj. “I am used to working with many actors. My play Sugandada Seemeyaache, which won the Nataka Academy Award, had 40 actors. There are both amateurs and senior actors in the play. We have already had three shows and the audience reacted emotionally to the way we have staged certain scenes.”

Giriraj says the climax is a big hit. “At the end of the play the way the ghost expresses her feelings about society has been appreciated.” Giriraj says Abhilash Laakra has given a contemporary spin to the music. “The play is modern as it talks of relationships and male superiority. The music is in tune with present-day sensibilities.”

Maasthi Kallu will be staged on March 15 at KH Kalasoudha, Hanumanthanagar at 7.30 pm. Tickets are available at the venue and

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 1:11:22 AM |

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