Conflict of body and soul

Girish Karnad's “Hayavadana”, a multi-layered play based on the “Kathasaritasagar” and Thomas Mann's story “The Transposed Head”, depicts duality in life; between the mind and the body, between desire and reason, between friendship and love. It is a merging of several philosophical threads into a whole. The play opens with a prayer to Ganesha, the God of completeness, who is himself incomplete with an elephant's head and a man's body. The play then introduces the story of Hayavadana who, due to a twist in fate, is born with a body that is half-horse, half-man. He prays to Kali to make him a complete man, but before he could finish stating his wish, he turns into a horse. He makes peace with this, but regrets having a human's voice. Thus, depicting that desire has no end.

The central story of the love triangle among Kapila, Devadatta and Padmini takes the audience through a journey of friendship, love, longing, guilt and regret. Devadatta and Kapila make for unlikely friends, the former is a poet and lives life through the mind, while the latter has a powerful physique and courts adventure. They are attractive in their unique ways but one does not possess the strengths of the other. Devadatta falls in love with the beautiful and intelligent Padmini and their marriage is arranged by the loyal Kapila. The passion that had once defined Devadatta's and Padmini's love, fades, and is replaced by minor let downs and complaints. Kapila and Padmini fall in love. Devadatta feels increasingly isolated and is aware that Padmini's desire for Kapila far outweighs her love for him. The events that unfurl are tragic.

Top Cast theatre group recently staged “Hayavadana” at the MLR Convention Centre. Team work and co-operation determine a good production, which was lacking in some parts of the play. N. Ravikumar's direction was powerful though unavoidable technical glitches marred the production. The essence of the story, however, was brought out well through nuances of expression and stage presentation. Special mention must be made of Avinash Rajendran and Ruchi Raveendran who played the roles of Kapila and Padmini, respectively. They set the stage on fire with their stunning chemistry, leaving a lasting impression. Sunil Bannur played Devadatta as Ravikumar had intended the character to be — self-pitying. But the side actors, with the exception of Nata played by Utkarsh Saraph and Hayavadana performed by Manjunath, left much to be desired.

The lights were timely, the sets minimal and not detracting from the evocative script; the costumes powerfully brought alive the era in which the play is set. But the real hero was the melodious music by Raghu Dixit; it was a character by itself. Had more attention been paid to the performances, the play could have been much more effective.

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Printable version | Jan 13, 2022 7:15:30 PM |

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