Review Theatre

Play Dokka Seethamma: On a life well lived

VISAKHAPATNAM, ANDHRA PRADESH, 04/12/2016: '', a social drama, being staged by Gangotri Pedakakani and penned by Ramakrishna, at Kalabharathi in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. It is a biopic on Dokka Seethamma, a woman described as 'the most charitable women of South India during the British rule'. She served the poor people when famine hit East and West Godavari districts during the British rule. The play, directed by Naidu Gopi, was organised by Writer's Academy. - Photo: C.V.Subrahmanyam   | Photo Credit: C.V.Subrahmanyam

Passage to divinity, they say, is through the corridors of selfless feeding the hungry and needy and Dokka Seethamma (1841-1909), a philanthropist nonpareil, exemplified this dictum in life through ‘anna daanam’ for decades. Her legacy got etched into the minds of people and inspirational accounts of her life continue to be shared.

In recognition of her selfless service, she was invited to a royal function by King Edward VII, which she politely declined preferring to focus on her service to people in her village.

Former speaker of Lok Sabha, GMC Bala Yogi, during his visit to London, had a chance to view the portrait of Dokka Seethamma, with the caption ‘the most charitable woman of South India’ in royal place.

On his return to India, he enquired about her heirs in 1999 at Amalapuram. Subsequently, a statue of her was unveiled and an aqueduct was named after her on Vynateya, a tributary to Godavari.

A biographical play Dokka Seethamma on her life and work evoked warm response at Kalabharati, Visakhapatnam.

Seethamma was born into a well-to-do orthodox Brahmin family in Mandapaka, East Godavari District. Her father, the erudite Bhavani Sankar, earned the sobriquet ‘Buvvanna Sastry’ for his feeding the poor. Seethamma inherited this noble trait and unswervingly tread the path of her father till her last breath. Her doting hubby Dokka Venkata Joganna’s unflinching support further helped her continue her charity work even after his demise.

The play opened with a scene where former speaker of Lok Sabha GMC Bala Yogi interacts with her great- grandson and then shifts to her native home where Seethamma, as a devout Brahmin girl, attends daily domestic chores and helps her doting father in the upkeep of the house as her mother was no more. There comes Dokka Joganna, a friend of her father, who proposes and wins her hand.

The scene then shifts to Lankala Gannavaram, a neighbouring village of her in-laws. The play then recounts significant happenings in her life, including Sir Arthur Cotton’s visit to her home.

Replete with finer shades of expression, each scene, particularly the scene where a stranger drowning in Godavari was rescued, spoke of the directorial brilliance of Naidu Gopi, who also donned the role of Joganna with aplomb.

T.Vara Lakshmi in the eponymous role excelled and Jaya, Tirumala, Tulasi, Ch.Rajatha Murthy, Gummadi Balaram, D. Mahendra and other atistes of Gangothri Peda Kakani performed well.

Writers Academy hosted the event. In a fitting tribute to Dokka Seethamma, the academy also felicitated philanthropists in the city.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 5:03:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/Play-Dokka-Seethamma-On-a-life-well-lived/article16834071.ece

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