Theatre

Playing dirty politics

A scene from 'Ikkada dongalantha Kshemam,' a drama penned and directed by Kasi Viswanadha Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam  

A prominent American politician Boies Penrose said “Public office is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” It perhaps, is more relevant today than when it was said. Taking it as the bottomline, renowned playwright Kasi Viswanadham’s playlet Ikkada Donagalanthaa Kshemam ( The Thieves Are Safe Here) unfolded a caustic political satire that kept the audience glued to seats at Kalabharati, Visakhapatnam. Set against the life of the protagonist Applasuri, a notorious pick-pocket, and his meteoric rise in politics , the play unveiled the brazen and unscrupulous ways of politics and politicians beneath the affectation of public service.

Opening in a jail scene, the drama takes place during the time of Applasuri’s release and then at his home, where he deftly manipulates those who come to seek his help in matters of politics and crafts his own rise in politics, outsmarting the wily politicians. Hoping to return soon to jail for his wife and son who were serving sentences , a habitual pick pocket Applasuri comes to his home. As a big chunk of voters in his ward are of his caste, a politician from ruling party wants him to be in the fray as his dummy and makes a huge payment to meet the electoral expenses. A leader from opposition too does the same. Exploiting the both to the hilt, Appalasuri emerges as a victorious independent candidate in municipal elections. As the mandate resulted in tie between the main contestants, a single vote of independent becomes crucial to tilt the scales and he cashes his moment beyond one can think of.

Though it ran like a lively farce rather than a play, punchy dialogue, wit and humour in the brilliant portrayal of the protagonist by the playwright Kasi Viswanadham evoked warm response. In a taut treatment its depiction of the flip side of politics and its murky clandestine deals drove its point straight home. Its contemporary touch reflective of current political scenario in the country further sharpened its appeal. Kasi Viswanadh’s directorial expertise came to fore in every frame.

Korukonda Rangarao, Vemula Bhaskrachari, G.V Trinadh and S. Sridhar did well. Later, artistes of Vizianagaram-based Andhra Pradesh Theatre staged the playlet Meeraite Emchestaru with aplomb. Kasi Viswanadh scripted it and G. Varaprasad directed it well.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2021 5:52:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/playing-dirty-politics/article3631250.ece

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