Memorable plays tug at audience’s heart strings
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Memorable plays tug at audience’s heart strings

December 15, 2022

Mysore/Mysuru: Veteran filmmaker and theatre person T.S. Nagabharana’s play ‘Vidya Sundari Bengaluru Nagarathnamma’ about the life of courtesan, artiste and activist Bangalore Nagarathnamma captivated the audience at the Bahuroopi National Theatre Festival at Rangayana last evening. The Theatre Festival comes to an end this evening.

‘Vidya Sundari Bengaluru Nagarathnamma’ performed at Kalamandira by the Benaka troupe, Bengaluru, saw its successful 25th show. The play, directed by T.S. Nagabharana, draws inspiration from V. Sriram’s book ‘The Devadasi and the Saint: The Life and Times of Bengaluru Nagarathnamma’, and the Kannada novel ‘Vidya Sundari Bengaluru Nagarathnamma’ by Maleyuru Guruswamy. The text for the play has been adapted by Prathibha Nandakumar and Hooli Sekhar.

Bengaluru Nagarathnamma, born in 1878 in Nanjangud, died in 1952 in Thiruvaiyaru. In her lifetime, she conquered Karnatak music in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. She was among the first women to pay income tax to Madras Residency at that time and she was one of the best ‘harikatha’ pioneers of South India.

The musical play highlighted the life and works of Nagarathnamma. Apart from being a cultural icon and an activist, she was a feminist and activist and was much ahead of her times. Before feminism came into existence, Nagarathnamma held her ground for so many things. While she was an activist, she also was an acclaimed artiste who reached the pinnacle of success.

It was a fast-moving play that showcased several events in the life of young Nagarathna in Nanjangud, her education, training in music, her mother Puttalakshamma falling into penury, their move to Bengaluru, the death of Nagarathna’s mother, and her musical prowess.

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The play later on moves to Nagarathna’s life in Madras where she meets judge Narahari Rao who plays a pivotal role in her art and musical career. The play combined drama, dance and music and the audience were thoroughly entertained and felt that this is the story of an extraordinary woman, told with quality dance and soothing music, combining dramatic production values.

Panchakanya Smarenityam

The Kannada play ‘Panchakanya Smarenityam’ performed by troupe Ranga Sampada, Belagavi, at Sampath Rangamandira (Kirurangamandira) narrated the stories of women who play a vital role in the Indian mythology — Ahalya, Draupadi, Kunti, Tara and Mandodari.

Vinuta Hanchinamani is the playwright and was directed by Dr. Aravinda Kulkarni. The Panchakanyas are the five virgins from Hindu scriptures — Ahalya, Tara and Mandodari from Ramayana and Draupadi and Kunti from Mahabharata. While some include Sita instead of Kunti as Panchakanya, a majority of devotees categorise Kunti among Panchakanya.

The play showed how more than gaining in life, how these women lost everything. The play hints at the greatness of even chanting the names of Panchakanyas with which one can wash away all their sins. The good aspect of Panchakanya is that all these women are married and some of them have more than one man in their lives but still they are considered to be holy and pure virgins by the scriptures.

Better Half

Hindi play ‘Better Half’ performed by troupe Chetana Rang Samuh, Bhopal, was staged at Bhoomigeeta. Its playwright and director is Ashish Srivastav. To start with, the play was an emotional roller-coaster that narrates the love story between an aged couple. The couple is seen on stage caring for each other, supporting each-other during ups and downs of life and enjoying their morning and evening walks.

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The couple — Prashant Chatterjee and Sudha Chatterjee — spend more than 30 years together while their son works in another city. But the elderly lady passes away while undergoing treatment at a hospital and later her son comes to know that his mother died because of medical negligence.

Prashant decides to fight for justice and files a case against the hospital in the court while Rahul asks him not to do so. Prashant wins the case and in a poignant moment, he distributes the compensation among the poor. However, Prashant suffers from hallucinations and starts feeling his wife’s presence everywhere, deeply missing her and having a conversation with her, alone.

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