Language no barrier for actors of Malegalalli Madumagalu

Kuvempu's Malegalalli Madumagalu will be staged at Kalagrama till January 31 four days a week from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Kuvempu's Malegalalli Madumagalu will be staged at Kalagrama till January 31 four days a week from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.  


Many of those rendering Kannada dialogues are from outside Karnataka

The theatre adaptation of Kuvempu’s Malegalalli Madumagalu currently running in Bengaluru — has a massive 75-member cast. Interestingly, at least 15 among them are students of the Bengaluru Centre of National School of Drama (NSD) who have picked up the language only over the past fortnight.

“We had rehearsals for 12 to 14 hours every day, which helped them pick up the language. Moreover, these students have the hunger to learn,” said C. Basavalingaiah, director, NSD.

From watching videos of past shows to taking the assistance of their seniors, these NSD students have done it all. Recollecting some of the challenges in learning the language and how they were in awe of Kuvempu’s work, the students spoke to The Hindu about their experience in gearing up for the play.

Sojin K.R. from Tamil Nadu, who has been the city for the past six months, said learning Kannada was not difficult as he knows how to speak five other languages. But he said they started preparations for the show after they watched it five times. Sojin had to essay different characters, including that of the narrator Podi saabi and the dog. He was impressed with the manner in which Kuvempu had portrayed reality in a straightforward manner.

“There are so many emotions in the play. Issues such as unaccountability, feudalism and love were brought alive through the play,” he said, adding that he listened to poems of Kuvempu to understand more about his work.

Another NSD student, Leo Frank, who is from Kerala. Among several other challenges, Leo, who is 22 years old, had to play the role of Subbanna Hegde, who is over 80 years old. He sought the assistance of a friend who speaks Kannada and wrote down all the Kannada lines in English, and later learnt the meaning of the sentences.

“I had to also work on the Kannada slang and how to emote during a particular situation. I also faced challenges in pronunciation, as we had to be loud and clear on the open stage,” he said, adding that Kuvempu’s work reminds him of Malayalam writer Vaikom Muhammad Basheer.

“Kuvempu explains his character very clearly and there is so much detail in his characterisation. Even a leech is a character in his play, and each character has so many dimensions,” he explained.

Akhil Bhaneswara from Telangana, who plays the role of Swami Vivekananda and Rev. Fr. Lekhil, said he learnt the dialogues after watching videos of the play.

Nireeksha Rao from Andhra Pradesh, who plays the role of Chinamma, had not learnt Kannada though she has lived in Bengaluru for a decade. “I started learning Kannada for the play,” she said, recalling how they had to juggle between classes and rehearsals that would sometimes go on till late in the night. She wrote down her and her co-actors’ dialogues in Hindi, and delivered the dialogues after learning the meaning and emotions with assistance from her seniors. The support from the nearly 5,000 audience members for the eight shows performed so far, who have sat through nine hours in the cold, has been overwhelming, she said.

The play will be staged at Kalagrama till January 31 four days a week: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 2:15:54 PM |

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