A journey through history

Rehearsal in progress  

A GORED, speared horse. A woman shrieking in agony. Haunting images of children, people in despair, broken swords, a dove and one last surviving flower.

The spotlight moves from this painting `Guernica' by Pablo Picasso, powerful invective against violence in modern art, to the stage, where its sequel unfolds.

The aftermath of a communal clash, with men and women cowering in terror and orphaned child refugees wandering about aimlessly. Is this the end of the glorious social and cultural legacy that was handed down to us by the likes of Gandhiji and Vivekananda?

`Bharatheeyam', a cultural show to be staged in Thiruvananthapuram city on August 16, would be a nostalgic journey through the historic events that shaped contemporary society and an attempt to seek answers _ where did we go wrong?

The show, which is being presented as part of the third anniversary celebrations of Kairali TV, fully explores the possibilities of multi-media projection. Thus action happens not just on the stage, but also on the two 16 mm screens flanking the stage. Characters step out of the screen on to the stage and fade away into the screen again.

``Bharatheeyam is a journey back in time, a long and arduous trek through history. It is our voice of protest against the current social and political degeneration and what it has done to the delicate secular structure of society,'' says Murali, cine actor, who has conceived the show along with P. T. Kunjumohammed. ``What is special about this show is that the entire sequence of events unfolds through scenes from our great literary works, each of which represent a milestone in our social history. Characters from those poems, plays and novels come on stage and through them one gets a glimpse into the social and cultural milieu of the time,'' says Murali.

Most of the events in Kerala's political history had been shaped out of great social reformation movements. ``Events such as the Temple Entry Proclamation has deeply influenced political movements of the time. The literary works of the time speak about a secular social atmosphere. But all that has undergone so much changes and we have strayed so far away from our cultural heritage,'' says Babu Bharadwaj, who has done the script for the show along with N. Sasidharan.

Murali says that few shows have been done here exploiting the possibilities of multi-media. ``Stage shows today have no content or depth. Vulgarised mix of various traditional art forms are presented on garish sets, designed to overwhelm the audience. We are determined to make this show different,'' he says.

Murali and P.T.Kunjumohammed giving directions.

Murali and P.T.Kunjumohammed giving directions.  

The show encompasses a historical time-frame of over eight decades, from the 1920s. Gandhiji, Swami Vivekanandan, Sree Narayana Guru are some of the powerful symbols used on the stage. The scene shifts to Kerala, the freedom struggles here and social reformation movements. One is taken through the events that led to the formation of the first Communist government in the State and its fall, Emergency, the contemporary events like the tribals' struggle for homeland and finally, Marad.

The literary works that become powerful devices of this journey through history include poems by Asan, Ulloor, Vailoppilli, Kadammanitta, O.N.V Kurup, Sachithanandan's `Naavu Maram', novels by Uroob (`Ummachu'), M. T. Vasudevan Nair (`Asuravithu'), Thikkodiyan (`Chuvanna Kadal'), plays by K.T. Mohammed (`Ithu Bhoomiyaanu'), Cherukad (`Nammal Onnanu'), Thoppil Bhasi (`Ningal Enne Communistakki'), E.M. Taj (`Ravunni'), to name a few.

About 100 artistes, including Mukesh, Zeenath, Ershad, Nilambur Ayesha, Narendra Prasad, M.R. Gopakumar, Madhupal, Aliyar, Premkumar, Sandhya Rajendran, E.A. Rajendran are participating in the show. Also, poets, O.N.V. and Kadammanitta will come on stage to recite their poems.

The show is directed by Priyanandan and Pramod Payyannur, music is by Sharath and light and sounds by Sunil Kudavattoor.

``Politics today lacks heart and soul. People are crying out for the warmth and the solace of love, which alone can see us ahead in turbulent times. Compassion should be the other side of power, that's what we're trying to say,'' says Bharadwaj.

By Maya C.

Photos: S. Mahinsha