Theatre

Dynasty disputes in the spotlight

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Shraddha’s ‘Aurangazeb’, for the lovers of history

Can a play rehearsal hold you in thrall? Can it delve into dynasty disputes and succession wars of the past centuries in gripping fashion? The run-through for Shraddha’s next theatre production, ‘Aurangazeb’ did just that! Shah Jahan in monologue mode, ruing his fate, is mesmerising to watch. ‘Aurangazeb’ offers rare glimpses of warmth and Dara, an antithesis of Aurangazeb, standing vulnerable and betrayed! ‘Aurangazeb’ appears promising and could captivate lovers of history and aficionados of Theatre.

Generally, levity rules Shraddha rehearsals. The team juxtaposes work with liveliness. But here, the serious, emotion-packed scenes are enacted solemnly, with V. Balakrishnan (Theatre Nisha) as the helmsman.

In tune with the mood of the play, the members are pensive. A breatheris announced and Krishnamurthy, the sombre Shah Jahan, breaks the ice with a smile. Swamy joins him. Gone are the ‘Doosra’ days, when Swamy was less loquacious during our interactions. (‘Doosra’ was his first play with Shraddha). He plays the titular role in ‘Aurangazeb,’ as he did in ‘Vadavooran.’

If it’s a Shraddha historical does the protagonist have to be Swamy? “No. All of us here went through the audition process. Bala (Balakrishnan), our director, can tell you more,” Swamy contends. “When we thought of staging Indira Parthasarathy’s ‘Aurangazeb,’ we felt Bala should wield the baton. He has two decades of Theatre experience and we refused to look beyond him.”

“We accompanied Bala to the meeting with E.Pa. (That’s how the troupe refers to Indira Parthasarathy) to introduce him to the writer. But soon we learnt that they know each other from E.Pa’s Delhi days,” chuckles Krish.

Historical plays seem to be catching on in Tamil. “To me ‘Aurangazeb,’ as E.Pa has conceptualised, is more philosophical than historical,” begins Bala.

“The conflict for power and supremacy among family members and its ramifications reveal contemporary relevance. E.Pa’s acumen is also evident in the dialogue. While history portrays Dara as a good man, the play sees him as weak.”

Ganapathy Murugesan, who plays Dara, when asked about his thoughts on the character says, “Emotions are aplenty and I like the challenge it poses for me as an actor.”

“Even my design of the play is different. We aren’t going in for lavish sets and facades. It’s the characters, their emotions and actions that are in focus. ‘Aurangazeb’ will be like watching a film in mid-close-up, with very tight frames,” says Bala.

One notices quite a few new faces. “Yes, it’s a motley group. Besides Shraddha’s actors, Bala auditioned aspirants from Koothu-p-pattarai and Theatre Nisha, and freelancers,” says Krish.

‘Aurangazeb’ has at least five female actors and seeing so many women at the rehearsal spot is a pleasant surprise! Drama troupes do not have more than two women. “It happens with amateur groups because women actors are paid more,” points out Shivaji. “‘Aurangazeb’ will have two actors playing the same role. Like, for two days Hema will be Jahanara and on the other two, Sathya will do the role. This is because I found more than one actor doing well at the auditions,” says Bala.

“I am just the assistant director,” Roshini Sridhar introduces herself. “Ignore the ‘just,’” quips Swamy.

Archna Sharma, who hails from Bihar, is another surprise. The model and film actor (She’s acted in S.A. Chandrasekar’s ‘Veluththu Kattu’) sees the proscenium as a ground to hone her acting skills. It’s amazing that Archna, who plays Roshnara, delivers chaste Tamil dialogue! ‘Aurangazeb’ is her second play with Shraddha.

“Basically, it’s love for Theatre that has brought us together. I love the Tamil language and E.Pa’s play offers us a great opportunity,” says Sathya. It is again passion for the stage that has Shakthi avidly pursuing it for five years now. ‘Aurangazeb’ boasts of a formidable women’s brigade!

The tension of handling the production on his own (T.D.Sundarajan, the other Shraddha producer, is in the U.S. now) makes Shivaji thoughtful. “It’s tough,” he nods, and immediately adds cheerfully, “But we are combat-ready for ‘Aurangazeb.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 6:14:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Dynasty-disputes-in-the-spotlight/article14628565.ece

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