Short and sweet — that would perfectly describe Shraddha’s play ‘Bharati.’ Easily one of the best among the 16 plays offered by them so far, it is an adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar’s ‘Bobbychi Ghostha,’ by Yadartha Penneswaran, a senior journalist, based at New Delhi.
Three persons involved in the play vie for the top honours – the child artist, Mahima, who played the protagonist (Bharati), music director Ramesh Vinayakam (RV) and director G. Krishnamurthy.
Vijay Tendulkar’s play deals with the sensitivity of a single child born to working parents. The child’s frustration in not finding either parent at home on return from school, their extended working hours that push the child into her own world of fantasy may be contemporary but that ‘Bharati’ was penned about 35 years ago goes to prove why Vijay Tendulkar is looked upon as one of the leading lights of Marathi theatre. He directs his pen towards the parents for the child’s little foibles.
Mahima’sexceptional performance was a plus and she carried the play on her slender shoulders with the ease of a veteran. She was amazingly consistent throughout. Her body language, especially the pouts and rolling of eyes, to convey emotions, belied her age.
Now the story. Feeling bored, a lonely Bharati breaks the shackles to levitate in her own fantasy world where she encounters her favourite characters such as Akbar (Aryaan C Paramasivam), Birbal (Siddarth Varma) and Chathrapathi Sivaji (Hemant Rajkumar). She admonishes them either for being late or not answering her questions properly. Spanking of Akbar and making Sivaji stand up on the bench were hilarious moments. Bharati next meets her favourite toon character, Mickey Mouse, aptly portrayed by J. Gabrella Sellus. Time ticks away but there is no sign of her parents returning home. This upsets Bharati, who, to get out of the situation, resets the clock, so that it is time for some bedtime stories. Bharati gets pepped up when the moon lands at her house along with the stars.
Five-year-old Abhinav’s rendition of ‘Nila Nila Odi Vaa,’ tuned differently by RV, and the dance by the tiny stars, choreographed by S. Hemalatha, transport Bharati to a joyous world. But reality hits as she craves for her mother’s warm hugs.The lighting here needs to be commended (Mano and Baby Charles). Lavanya Venugopal as the moon was adequate. The song ‘Nilavu Kavidhai Ezhudhum,’ penned by Kavi Varman, composed and sung by RV, provided a new experience in Tamil stage.
The next episode offered some rib-tickling moments with the clown (Vikas) doing some jugglery and risky jumps, and a horse that spoke (D. Naresh). Rope artist (Gnana Prakash), swungs wildly and suddenly landed on the stage. All this, however, fail to impress Bharati, who falls asleep. She dreams of all the characters fighting on stage to take her along with them. This is yet another scene where the director and his associate (Swaminathan Ganesan) score.
The penultimate underwater episode was the highlight of the drama. The fluorescent sea-weeds, the giant octopus, colourful fishes, giant sea shells and tortoise, all floated to the accompanied by oboe and piano. It was learnt that this brilliant spectacle was made possible by Shivaji Chaturvedi and a host of young actors, who had acted in Shraddha’s earlier plays, and theatre enthusiasts.
And in her dream Bharati meets two angels (Tejaswini & Sarojini), who try to woo her into their world. But as she longs for her parents to come back home she does not get thrilled. Next was the scene of demons, at least in the eyes of Bharathi, her history teacher (Hemalatha), ice cream pedlar (T.D. Sundararajan), bus conductor (Prasanna Ramkumar) and her classmate (Pranav) who are a constant threat in her real life. Tired of waiting for her parents, Bharathi rests on the sofa with her huge teddy. And when her parents arrive she does not open the door leaving them leave for the keys.
Audience are brought back to reality when Bharati talks to them about how her parents love her - her mother feeding her with love, her father buying gifts and putting her to sleep with bedtime stories.
The sincere efforts of Ramu (costumes), Perambur Kumar (make-up), Mohan Babu (sets execution), G. Ramesh (lighting design and art direction), Senthilapathy (music operation) are value additions.
The play was recently staged at Sathguru Gnanananda Hall, Alwarpet, under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts, Narada Gana Sabha, Brahma Gana Sabha and Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha.
Name of the play: Bharati
Venue: Vani Mahal, T. Nagar.
Date: November 22, 7 p.m.
Held under the auspices of: Sri Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha and Shraddha.