Review Theatre

Surprises in oft-told tale of Meera

Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation presents Sohaila Kapur’s ‘Main to Prem Deewaanee: The Story of Meera’

Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation presents Sohaila Kapur’s ‘Main to Prem Deewaanee: The Story of Meera’  

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‘Main to Prem Deewanee: The Story of Meera’ was a charming and interesting musical

Meera’s is a story that has been oft-told. So, the question was how will this performance of Main to Prem Deewanee: The Story of Meera, directed by Sohaila Kapur and written by Neena Wagh, and presented as part of the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation’s Theatre Weekend, measure up? But then, can we compare art? Maybe, maybe not.

Two things stood out. The opening act was a solo dance, sublime and graceful, the dancer under a veil. It was a reflection of my prejudice for I assumed the beautiful dance was being performed by a lady, until the veil was lifted to reveal an actor who would go on to play Krishna. The other noteworthy aspect was the bandwidth given to Raja Bhoj (Arun Prakash), Meera’s husband, who had to deal with plenty of taunts and barbs from society and was conflicted when it comes to dealing with Meera (Arti Nayyar). His anger did spill over her immaculate personality, subjecting her to many a torture, emotional and physical.

Arti obviously took the cake with a delightful performance, emoting charmingly and dancing equally gracefully. Neeraj Yadav’s commentary from time to time was an interesting narration-device to keep the audience engaged, the baritone of his voice and diction particularly delightful to the ears. While the Rajasthani princess’ devotion is sung about often, the play brought out Krishna’s mischief and Bhoj’s anguish in equal parts, ensuring all the three actors have equal contributions to make.

While the 60-minute play didn’t really taper out in intensity, a little more dialogue involving Meera could have been a welcome feature. Meera barely had much to present to the audience in terms of her thoughts, her introspections, and her argument. Yes, there were some monologues, but most of the conversations involving Meera and her husband had the same tone to them. The same is also true for Meera’s scenes with Krishna, who owned her heart and soul, just like he owned everyone else’.

The lighting was a little too bright at times and the opportunity of stage design was minimal, probably due to budget constraints. But, setting often helps a story pan out better, even if it is hinting at the spiritual as opposed to the material.

The story takes us through Meera’s coaxing of Krishna to talk to her, her imploring her husband not to be anguished by the rumours in the town about her reckless mingling with other devotees and sages, and Bhoj’s transformation from someone too arrogant to compete with a stone idol to someone frustrated with his own life – his dissatisfaction with his wife, his political paranoia thanks to his scheming step-mother and constant battles against the Mughals, all contributing to it. The story also touches upon Jauhar, and the punishment meted out to Meera, but doesn’t really show what happens of her eventually. The audience do get to walk out appreciating Meera, but it would have been better if they were armed with a little more dialogue, a few more questions and a bigger emotional conflict than the tried-and-tested story usually offers. Nevertheless, it was an evening well-spent.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 2:57:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/main-to-prem-deewanee-the-story-of-meera-was-presented-as-a-charming-and-interesting-musical/article23114868.ece

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