Friday Review

Magic once more with Surabhi

Magic for real Artistes of Surabhi Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali present ‘Patala Bhairavi’,  

The very name Surabhi spells magic for Telugu theatre aficionados who never miss a chance to view its theatrical versions of mythology or folklore fantasies. Surabhi is perhaps the only thatre troupe in Andhra and Telangana that draws repeat audience. A recent three-day Surabhi event at Kalabharati Visakhapatnam was no different. The event opened with its flag bearer play Maya Bazar followed by Paatala Bhairavi and two more shows of Maya Bazaragain on the third day.

The fictional episode of Maya Bazar, is said to be a tale from Marati folklore in Maharashtra and not present in the original Sanskrit epic Jaya ( Mahabharata) of sage Vysa or its standard vernacular versions. The original and ingenious flair of an unknown playwright truly soared high in creating a non-existent character who gets wedded to Pandava prince Abhimanyu. With all the trappings of a fairy tale, weaving fantasy-like magic, tomfoolery and inscrutability, the tale is so fascinating that people assume it is from the original work.

Thanks to its intense drama, the story saw its on-screen versions both in silent movies and talkies, setting cash registers ringing way back in 1919, 1921 and 1923 for Telugu and its Hindi (1932) and Tamil talkies (1935).

Yet, long before its super hit Telugu film version (1957), Surabhi’s play Maya Bazar was a rage in the realm of Telugu theatre. Scripted by scholarly playwright Malladi Venkata Krishna Sarma from Srikakulam district, it became a theatrical wonder in the hands of Surabhi troupe.

The play opened with sage Narada descending on to the earth and what followed was truly a visual treat. Scenes like Ghatothkacha waking up from deep slumber, his unwitting fight with Abhimanyu and the quandary of Kauravas in Maya Bazar kept the viewers in thrall. The scene of light and shade effects for Uttara’s serenading Abhimanyu was the highlight.

With period costumes, brilliant stage props, commendable light and shade techniques and aesthetically rich curtains and backdrops, the play brought alive a slice of mythology, albeit on stage. The way the troupe of more than 70 artistes staged it with ease and exemplary team spirit is typical of Surabhi’s professionalism.

Paatala Bhairavi, a folk fantasy wherein a youngster falls in love with a princess and undergoes miraculous adventures and finally wins her hand. Artistes of Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali (Surabhi) Hyderabad staged this performance under the aegis of Rangasai Nataka Sangham of Badamgir Sai


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Printable version | Aug 3, 2021 6:32:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/Magic-once-more-with-Surabhi/article14564156.ece

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