FRIDAY REVIEW

Lights, action, drama!

A. RAMALINGA SASTRY

STAGE SHOW Sri Venkateswara Natyamandali, Surabhi, staging the drama `Balanagamma'. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

STAGE SHOW Sri Venkateswara Natyamandali, Surabhi, staging the drama `Balanagamma'. Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam  

Surabhi, a tiny hamlet near Rayachoti, now in Kadapa district, incidentally became a chosen shelter for many a Maratha migrant from Maharashtra after the death of Chatrapathi Shivaji in 1680. The year 1880 witnessed the birth of a small theatre group under the able guidance of one such migrant, Vanarasa Govinda Rao and started staging the adaptations of Keechakavadha and a few such other themes of the Marathi folk in Telugu. Very soon they have come to be known very popular for the materialistic realisation of the enigmatic effects of super human powers of the devathas, rakshasas, mantrikas and so on meticulously on the stage. They perfected the technique so much that it got identified with the place of the origin of the theatre group Surabhi. Not only the theatre groups started subsequently under different names one each by the 10 daughters and the three sons of Govinda Rao but also of their descendants , enjoyed the same reputation because of the prefix Surabhi, from the Sanskrit Shushstu Rabhathe Janaanandam, Ithi Surabhi.

Surabhi Sri Venkateswara Natya Mandali comprising about 60 artistes of the same family under the stewardship of R. Nageswara Rao alias Babji staged Srikrishna Leelalu, Baalanagamma and Mayabazaar in Kalabharathi last week as part of the Natasamrat Akkineni Natakotsavam - 2005.

The sets changed in a flicker of second. Cobras came alive with their fully spread hoods on the stage. Arrows projected as varuna and agneyaastras created rain and fire. The entire universe got revealed in the small mouth of the tiny tot Krishna. The Hamsatoolikatalpam with Sasirekha lying on it flew in the air all the way to the ashram of Ghatotkacha and many more such thrilling feats realised as part of the plays kept the houseful audience bedazzled and dumb struck in their seats on all the three days. Reasonably good display of histrionic talent coupled with ability to sing, dance and render versified dialogues in chosen ragas as well marked the performances.

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