Theatre

Soul-self story

Spirit of the hills Sapna Modgil Sand in the role of Luna. Photo: NAGARA GOPAL   | Photo Credit: NAGARA GOPAL

A lone lamp flickered on the stage. With the dhik- dha of the tabla entered the stage the sutradhar, the voice of the soul, Luna and many other characters which were to be played by one actor.

The sutradhar introduces Luna by comparing her with the beauty and innocence of nature and then goes on to speak of her boundless spirit. Luna at times was compared with the music of the gurgling water in a brook to the beauty of a morning dew drop on leaves.

The piece is set in the hills using the dress, sounds and imagery of the region and has a free-style incorporating music and verses. This solo performance sees poetry, music and dialogues beautifully woven to narrate the love story. Based on a poem by Shiv Kumar Battalvi the play is written by Tripuari Sharmah and enacted by Sapna Modgil Sand.

What made the play different was the presentation. The actor sang and danced and used simple props to show the life in the hills. The style of singing reflected in it the influence of Himachali folk.

The story is about Luna a young girl, who has an image of her prince charming. She sings in praise of him and blushes as she thinks about her feelings when he would take her in his arms. The character keeps switching between Luna and ‘somebody' she continuously converses with. Things take a sudden turn and the old aging king seeks her hand. She pleads, Khaali haath nahin mera, duje ki mehendi mere haathon mein, rabji ki sau haath na pakdo raja. But no one was to listen to her pleas. The village is celebrating at the though that the king's marriage to the girl will no longer finally remove the untouchable tag from them. Sapna's enactment of the mourning scene where she mourns the death of lively Luna was heart rendering.

Luna now an embodiment of pain, a victim and a survivor at the same time finally meets her man of dreams. But it turns out that he is her step-son—Pooran Bhagat. She rebels to seek her love but Pooran is stoic in his commitment to God. Luna tells him that she saw the love in his eyes, that he met her many time in her dreams and thought.

Sapna's flawless expressions brought out the emotions of young Luna too well.

Luna was one of the two plays that was staged at Ravindra Bharathi by Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation. The plays were produced by Shabdaakaar.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 12:59:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Soul-self-story/article16242147.ece

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