BENGALURU: Over two years after it opened, Bengaluru Samudaya’s production of Tughlaq will see its 46th show at Ravindra Kalakshetra this evening.
This is no mean feat for a production that requires 18 actors to keep it going, all of them part of the hobbyist group. So since the opening night at Ranga Shankara in October, 2013, the casting has changed a little, including those of the main characters.
“Tughlaq is now played by Malathesh and the foster mother by Padma Shimoga,” says Kiran V R, an advocate and hobbyist theatre artiste. “Initially, Venkatesh Prasad and Sushma had brought them to life.” Kiran has essayed the role of Najib for 44 of the 46 shows so far.
The production is based on Girish Karnad’s play of the same title, perhaps the most popular theatrical piece of the 14th century sultan.
The Samkutty Pattomkari’s directorial was designed for a theatre festival themed on reinterpreting Karnad, and artistes who have worked with the director have repeatedly said the play was intended to bring out Tughlaq’s political chessboard analogy, all apparent in the sets and pawn-like movements of characters — often restrictive, according to some critics — are recurring motifs.
But the cast has understood aspects of the protagonist, a character history has painted as ‘the evil ruler’, better, thanks to repeat performances.
The play also makes the emperor a bit of a thinker, given to introspection and bursts of poetic inspiration. Girish Kanad penned the play in 1964, which was interpreted as allegorical of the Nehruvian era, and explores the themes of idealism and disillusionment.
Tughlaq, directed by Samkutty Pattomkari and co-directed by Sripad Bhat, at Ravindra Kalakshetra, JC Road, at 7 pm on Thursday.