PrevNext

Two different productions bring the Mahabharata to life on Mumbai's stages

Retrospection may be easy, but it’s also necessary. And, interestingly, two productions, to be staged only a month apart, have characters from the country’s most complicated and longest epic, Mahabharata. The characters look back at the war, the millions of lives lost on the battle ground, wondering at the pointlessness of it all.

Conceptualised by Shama Bhate, Mahabharat Reinterpreted — Ateet Ki Parchhaiyan, will be staged this weekend
Conceptualised by Shama Bhate, Mahabharat Reinterpreted -- Ateet Ki Parchhaiyan, will be staged this weekend

"The leaders go through a moment of profound questioning: the ones who won say ‘victory is a defeat’ and the ones who lost admit that they could have prevented that war," says Peter Brook in a presser ahead of the Mumbai premiere of the stage adaptation of his acclaimed nine-hour version of Mahabharata, Battlefield. "In the Mahabharata they at least have the strength to ask these questions. Our real audience is Obama, Hollande, Putin and all the presidents. How do they see their opponents in this day and age?" While Battlefield will come to the NCPA in March, this weekend will see kathak exponent Shama Bhate’s Mahabharat Reinterpreted —Ateet Ki Parchhaiyan.

Four weeks later, Peter Brook's Battlefield comes to Mumbai
Four weeks later, Peter Brook's Battlefield comes to Mumbai

Speaking from Pune, ahead of the Hyderabad debut of her multi-disciplinary dance production, Bhate says she has wanted to work with the Mahabharata for 30 years. "However, I felt that one needs to experience a bit more of life before venturing into such a complex epic," says the 65-year-old, who says that "having become a senior citizen, working on the epic was a now-or-never situation."

In her 105-minute-long production, which was conceptualised a year ago, the epic’s main characters Kunti, Gandhari and Bhishma, look back at their lives, contemplating their motivations and whether they were correct. "With Draupadi’s chirharan being a focal point, there’s Bhisma wondering why he didn’t step in. Why wasn’t he more proactive? There’s conflict with oneself," says Bhate. While Lord Krishna doesn’t make an appearance on stage, his is the spirit that the characters turn to during conflict. He is their conscience.

Kathak isn’t the only dance language on stage. Each character is represented by their own dance form. Bhishma, for instance, is portrayed by Kathakali exponent Dr Kannan. Gandhari gets Mohiniattam, which requires lesser space and has more bhaava. Duryodhan is portrayed in battle-like chhau moves. "He’s arrogant and battle-oriented".

For her homework, Bhate read various interpretations of the 3,000-year-old epic, including Durga Bhagwat’s Bhainappa’s, and Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s Palace of Illusions. "I have, of course, watched BR Chopra’s Mahabharata and videos of Peter Brook’s adaptation. However, I used inputs from them only as reference points for my characters. I wanted their emotions to reflect a more contemporary life," she says.

Mahabharat Reinterpreted - Ateet Ki Parchhaiyan
When: February 5, 7 pm
Where: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Entry: Rs 300-Rs 600
Call: 22824567

Battlefield 
When: March 5-12, 7 pm
Where: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Entry: Rs 500-Rs 5,000
Call: 22824567

You May Like

MORE FROM JAGRAN

0 Comments

    Leave a Reply