Tracing the Transition from Beauty to Divinity

Janani Narasimhan from Theatre Nisha portrayed the life of courtesan Amrapali, who renounced a royal life to seek the path of Buddha

Published: 17th March 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2015 12:58 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: Theatre Nisha’s latest production at Alliance Francaise of Madras presented the tale of a royal courtesan, Amrapali and her journey towards ultimate knowledge. The stage belonged entirely to Janani Narasimhan, who enacted the role of Amrapali with grace, on Sunday.

Janani Narasimhan.jpgThe play — the design, direction and script of which was by V Balakrishnan — centred on the life of Amrapali, and how she was denied a normal life. The majesty then imposed the title of Janapadhakalyani or Nagarvadhu (royal courtesan) on her, while depriving her off her sexual autonomy at the same time.

Amrapali was named so because she was found abandoned under a mango tree. She grew to be a ravishing beauty, making every man cast a lewd eye on her.

It is not to be ignored that in that era, to celebrate victory in a war, the kings possessed the women they desired. Every kingmaker of the Mahajanapadhas, be it from Magadha, Vaishali, Gandhara or Koshala, was lured by Amrapali’s beauty and grace. She was showered with riches in return.

Amrapali’s life undergoes a complete transition when Buddha comes into her life and shows her the ultimate truth of life, which makes her renounce the materialistic world and tread the path of truth.

Janani presented the whole story without pause, with clarity and the right expression. Hindustani rendition at the background added to the mood of the play.

The entire sequence was not drawn from historical facts, but parts of it had fictional elements, giving it a creative touch. The sources for the script were Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu by Acharya chatursen and Ambapali by Vimala Raina.


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