Pic Source: Jyoti Dogra’s Facebook Page
Venue: India Habitat Centre
Date: 7th Nov 2016
Mahabharat is one of the greatest epics of the world. Apart from the interesting stories that are more real that mythological, what make it more interesting is that there are several subplots and stories that the characters relay to each other. Gita is one of them.
One of such stories has been adopted by thespian Girish Karnad for his play Agni aur Barkha. The play was adopted for a Bollywood film Agni Varsha in the nineties.
We recently saw another interpretation of this story / play, Toye, as part of Samanvay – The Annual IHC Indian Languages Festival. The play was directed by Jyoti Dogra who had impressed us in Notes on Chai during Bharat Rang Mahotsav.
Just like her earlier production Notes on Chai, this also had experiment at the core of the performance. Example – multiple actors playing a single character. However, the story is not linear and has complex layers. Understanding the relationship among the various characters of the story became even more difficult because of this experiment. Therefore, while such experiments make any other production interesting, this time it confused the audience. In fact we had to watch the movie Agni Varsha again to refresh our memory about the story. The Brahmarakshas in the play was very weak as compared to the high point in the movie where Prabhu Deva did a great job.
Further, repeatedly reciting the same lines in new-age theater is not new anymore. It is very NSD and leads to unnecessary lengthening of the script.
The visual impact was strong and the chants were pleasing to the ears. We liked the minimalist set as well.
Net-net, after many years, it was good to witness a play based on the fantastic story that once again reminded us of the epic greatness of Mahabharata.