Main Hoon Na... yet again

BASED ON Pramath Nath Vishi's novel "Purnavataar", "Main Hoon Na" seeks to depict man's inner quest to acquire a vision that is at once both divine and universal. The quest is long, arduous, frustrating but finally, rewarding and fulfilling.

Presented by Kshitij, a dramatic group formed by some graduates of the National School of Drama 18 years ago, "Main Hoon Na" is directed by Bharti Sharma. She has incorporated Hamlet's famous speech `To be or not to be' and the dialogues delivered by Nana and Ghasiram Kotwal in Vijay Tendulkar's play "Ghasiram Kotwal" when Ghasiram confronts the most humiliating and tragic moments in his life. These elements are borrowed to heighten the crisis of the conscience of the spiritually crippled central character of "Main Hoon Na".

Known for her sensitive direction, Bharti has tried this time to experiment both with form and content. At the level of form, she has used realism, expressionism and physical theatre. She has also broken at places the concept of the `fourth wall,' as the play opens and ends with disco dance.

The central character in the play is Jara, a hunter, who mistakes Krishna for a wild animal, shoots an arrow at him, killing him on the spot. As he comes to know that his victim is Vasudeva, he is shocked and filled with terror and remorse. Jara considers himself a sinner beyond redemption. Hunted by nightmares, he begins his journey through mysterious world into time and space to seek salvation. The lands he visits have different value systems. We watch him interacting with people endowed with eternal youth. Some of them are 2000 years old. Eat, drink and be merry is their motto. Sex is no taboo. This is a society free from conflicts. They live in perfect harmony. Jara meets people who follow Vedic moral code. He also comes in contact with Charvak, who professes the antithesis of what most of the religions preach. During the course of the journeys, he is sold at one place but manages to escape from slavery.

The highlight of Bharti's production is her device to create a beautiful spectacle on the stage. She has perceptively composed mass scenes depicting social anarchy, violence and natural calamity. The scene where Jara attains enlightenment, conjuring up the vision of Krishna giving him blessings, is captivating. The light effects, the offstage music, the imaginative use of cyclorama evoke a serene mood. The imagery is remarkable for its sublime beauty. Kishore Sharma's choreographic patterns and Himanshu Joshi's subtle light designs impart intricacy to the production.

In the past,s Bharti has directed the stage versions of two novels - "Biyaban Mein Ugtey Kinshuk" by Sudha Srivatstava and Acharya Chatursen's "Goli" - in realistic style with brilliant results. If we compare the production under review with her above two productions, we discover the present venture as disjointed and loud.

There are 23 characters, which hamper the flow of the action and in-depth characterisations. The opening and closing with disco dance appears to be out of tune in a production that deals with an epical theme. If only she had followed the realistic style of presentation, the result would have been artistically more impressive. The elements she took from "Hamlet" and "Ghasiram Kotwal" could have helped her in exploring the dilemma of the hunter giving it a contemporary feel.

Mohit Tripathi as Jara, gives a powerful performance, depicting various stages of the growth of his character in a convincing manner. Bharti Sharma as the prostitute in love with Jara presents a touching picture of her character. Kishore Sharma as Krishna, who never speaks in the play but frequently appears at critical moments in the life of Jara, leaves a deep impression with his lyrical movements.

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