Theatre

Of warrior queen and witty bride

Asserting their rights Scene from “Uttar Prashn”

Asserting their rights Scene from “Uttar Prashn”  

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This year’s Rangsheersh Jaydev Natya Utsav saw engrossing plays with strong female characters

To inculcate into its students love for dramatic art and provide them creative platform to enact plays, Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma College, University of Delhi, formed Rangayan Natya Samiti in 2005. To achieve this objective, Rangayan has started to organise every year a theatre festival titled Rangsheersh Jaydev Natya Utsav in a big way as a mark of honour to Dr. Jaydev Taneja, the former senior faculty member and eminent theatre critic and scholar. The college invites seasoned theatre directors to produce plays featuring its present as well as old students showing promise as theatre artists, offering them opportunity to hone their art and maintain their cultural ties with their alma mater. This year’s festival ended recently at Shri Ram Centre which made remarkable impression on young audience as well as theatre-lovers. The festival came to a close with the presentation of “Uttar Prashn”, a award winning play by Meera Kant which focuses on the first woman ruler of Kashmir, Yashomati, who dares to challenge the male-dominated council of minister, royal priest and army commander, for whom it is an anathema to see a woman ruler.

After the death of her husband, King Damodar, at the hands of Krishna in the battle field, the ruling elites are timid enough to surrender to victorious Krishna. Stupefied, they are shocked to hear Krishna’s command that Yashomati will occupy the throne who is pregnant having the infant of the deceased king in her womb. The queen ruled the kingdom with a stern hand, identifying the corrupt and anti-people officers. She punishes them severely and is prompt to deliver justice to the aggrieved. She wins the hearts of her people. Exposed, the members of the council are working day and night to over-throw the queen. In due course, Yashomati gives birth to a male heir to the kingdom. The council of minister, in league with the royal priest, decides to enthrone the infant, forcing the queen to abdicate the throne. Brave, wise and master strategist as she is, she inflicts crushing defeat on the conspirators, determined to impart the right education to her son befitting of a brave, just and kind ruler. Structurally, the play is straightforward and as it reaches to the climax, the resolution of the conflict tends to be abrupt. The final encounter between the queen and the conspirators should have shown to provide some tense moments to the audience. We have seen this play earlier presented in the realistic style. The production under review is directed by Vashishth Upadhyay who has enriched his production by incorporating into the structure lyrics set to music score by Atul Mishr. The lyrics move the story along and the music enriches the mood. The choreography by Vibhavari makes the production visually elegant. The blending of various expressive means contribute to make the production engrossing. Deekshya as Yashomati creates a striking image of her character.

Comic flavour

A scene from “Khoobsoorat Bahu”

A scene from “Khoobsoorat Bahu”  

Nag Bodas’s plays are immensely popular. His “Khabsoorat Bahu” was first produced by the Repertory Company of National School of Drama under the direction of Ranjit Kapoor. His “Thanku Baba Lochandas” was produced for NSD's Repertory Company by B.M. Shah as a musical comedy with music by Panchanan Pathak. It is popular with amateur theatre groups.

At Rangayan festival, “Khubsoorat Bahu” was directed by Suman Kumar who adhered to the original script with little pruning here and there. A blend of comedy and farce, the production exudes the folk flavour of rural Bundelkhand, capturing the day-to-day life of rural folks, their rituals, petty conflicts and the sense of joie de vivre. The narrative unfolds unobtrusively. The main characters are a widow, whose husband died when she was young and her exquisitely beautiful daughter-in-law. She loves her daughter-in-law so possessively that she remains all the time with her day and night. Her adopted son finds it difficult to consummate his marriage. The old widow is naïve enough to expect her daughter-in-law to give birth to a son. The staging is neat. The sets designed realistically are decorated with the motives of folk art of Bundelkhand. The rural ambience is further reinforced with the way colourful costumes are designed. The singers and instrumentalists are placed on a raised platform upstage, visible to the audience and the vital actions mostly take place downstage. The music score by Umashankar Prashad Singh and choreography by Pratibha Singh form the artistic whole intrinsically, adding visual and aural charm to the production. The young performers impart tremendous buoyancy to the production, communicating them to the audience, establishing a lively rapport with it. Dibyanshi Bhatia as “Khoobsoorat Bahu” creates a lovely portrait of a young bride marked by grace, vivacity, wit and intelligence who frequently uses English to silence the illiterate village Romeo making her scene eminently comic.

Kritika Singh as Chachi, the mother-in-law of Khoobsoorat Bahu, delights the audience with her feisty spirit and naivety. Shubham Goswami as the husband of Khoobsoorat Bahu, Deepanshi Gusai as the wife of village rogue and Mukul Agarwal as the village rogue give commendable performances.

Scene from “Adhe Adhure”

Scene from “Adhe Adhure”  

The three-day festival opened with Mohan Rakesh’s celebrated play “Adhe Adhure” under the direction of J.P. Singh. This is a play about a dysfunctional family which moves round Savitri whose desperation for the quest of a perfect man culminates in disaster. She is the sole bread-winner of the family and despised by her two daughters, son and husband who themselves are utter failures. They have no exit from their hellish family environment. The production seems to be inadequately rehearsed.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 9:10:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/of-warrior-queen-and-witty-bride/article26138028.ece

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