BENGALURU: On a Sunday afternoon, 20 odd people have assembled in a large, unfurnished hall to rehearse dialogues and scenes from Nagmandal, one of Girish Karnad's most well-known Kannada plays. The cast, theatre lovers across ages, has been practicing the translated play in Hindi every day, since February.
On the occasion of his 80th birthday, on May 19, the Canara Union, Maharashtra Mandal and amateur Kannada theatre groups were to keen do the different for the Padma Bushan awardee's landmark birthday, and the result was Karnad Natakotsava 2018.Like-minded theatre enthusiasts have come together to pay tribute to the veteran theatre personality, by performing his plays in four languages- Kannada, Konkani, Marathi and Hindi.
”Konkani is Karnad's mother tongue, but most of his works are in Kannada. And since he studied in Maharashtra, he picked up Marathi. We chose Hindi to ensure there is a wider audience reach,” says Shashank, a member of the cast, who is part of the troupe performing Nagmandal, a fairy tale, about a cruel unfaithful husband, his wife and a snake.
Canara Union's Ankur group has been working for months, to perfect the play which won him the Karnataka Sahitya Academy Award in 1989.Director Gautam Ubhayakar, a retired DRDO scientist, who also features as the narrator explains that all Karnad's works are a “class apart.” “
" Directing and performing each of them, is a huge challenge for any theatre actor. If you can, it’s an achievement. We narrowed down the plays to his classics. Though his play, Tughlaq has been done to death, there is no point having a tribute without it. So for the first time, we are staging Tughlaq in Marathi," says Gautam Ubhayakar, amidst ushering the younger lot of actors to keep their phones aside and practice the dance and song scene, and instructing other actors on getting the right expressions.
Tughlaq is staged by Maharashtra Mandals’ Yuva group and is directed by Sujay Ghorpadkar. In addition to these two, Agni And Paavsu, the Konkani version of Agni Mattu Male (The Fire and the Rain) is being staged by Bhumika group, and is directed by Shanthaprasad Heranjal.
Gautam points out that there is a social context to each of the plays. In, Nagmandal, a story highlighting the deep-rooted patriarchal mentality where men can do as they please in contrast to their subservient wives, there are three alternate endings to the play. “It is a story inside a story, where myths coming to life. The ‘spectators' play out different endings to the audience," says Gautam.
The festival will open with Taledanda, in Kannada, which is especially relevant given today's “Lingayat issue”, says Shashank. “The play is about Basavanna's teachings, at a time when Veerashaivism movement was on the rise," he adds.
The four plays will be performed at the Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram. Taledanda will be performed on May 24 at 7:30 pm, Nagmandal on May 25 at 7:30 pm, Agni And Paavsu on May 26 at 7:30 pm and Tughlaq on May 27 at 10 am. Tickets are priced from Rs 150 onwards and are available on bookmyshow.com