Agni Varsham play: A fire in the rain

It was agreeably a limited yet a glued theatre-fond audience gracing the Hari Hara Kala Bhavan to witness the play Agni Varsham, the Telugu adaptation of Girish Karnad’'s Kannada play Agni Mattu Male. As the actors from Nishumbita took over to stage the Mahabharata-based plot, the calm in the audience gradually got infectious and with time, there was hardly a sequence that didn’t elicit a round of applause.

Deservedly a play falling a few minutes short of two and a half hours, the heart wrenching drama in a mythological setting traverses you to an enchanting space. The narrative, encircled by the five basic elements of cosmic creation, predominantly Agni (fire) and water, as the title reflects, takes off in a kingdom that’s stricken by drought.

There’s a sweet-little love story unfolding in the background, between a couple of two varied castes, Aravasu and Nittila.

Aravasu, who’s said to have manda buddhi is raised by a dominating father Raibhya and has an elder brother Paravasu, where the latter of three also go onto perform a yagna to please the rain gods for better crops in the region. Visakha, the better half of Paravasu, prior to marriage happens to be fond of Yavagri, a man who earned the sympathy of lord Indra through a tapas that lasted 10 years. This afflicting premise constructs an intriguing element of melodrama backed by an enriching mix of deceit, love, betrayal and insecurity.

The layering of Karnad’s writing is an immensely significant element that makes this a winner. Just when you’re filled with thoughts that it’s love and deceit that envelops the heart of the plot, the connection between a drama actor and a particular caste not permitting him to venture into the arena ensures an alluring series of sequences, one also bringing forward a meta element as the play inches towards its culmination. The aspect of art imitating life is touched upon in the ending that has the writer vouching for humanity, the cycle of death and life, the defiance of self-inflicted barriers, resulting in some melancholy and some hope too.

The dialogue and the native utterances aren’t as chaste as one expects, but the captivating performances especially that of Vinay Nallakadi, Krishna Priya and Keshav Deepak, with the latter also choreographing the dances, are quite a value addition to the execution. There’s a poignant track, Manishi Jeevitam, penned by Vaddepalli Krishna that summarises the essence of the proceedings aptly. The director Holagundi Rammohan balancing aesthetics and the emotional quotient, strings together the complexities in relation to the performances and the musical backgrounds with impressive control.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 10:27:36 PM |

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