Lens
Shouting at a wall. Listening to echo. Looking at a mirror.

A heap of broken images

April 6th 2005 in Play Review

How many times have you not spoken to yourself or argued with yourself. Arguing with oneself would bring out our own neglected views and thoughts that it might shock us.

Girish Karnad, master playwright, for the first time directed his own creation, specially designed for Rangashankara. Using the above theme, he narrates the story of a Kannada writer who becomes famous for her bestseller in English! Karnad is aptly supported by Arundathi Raja who puts up a brilliant show.

The play starts off with a TV speech of Manjula Nayak who gives credits and briefs about her success and the story by answering two frequently asked questions. “Why in English?” and “Why that story?”. Soon after the briefing, she is drawn into discussion by her own image that appears on TV screen. Her digital image queries, ponders and manages to peel each layer of Manjula Nayak’s life. Manjula, is compelled to look at her life, often breaking down, often complaining and often defending herself. At the end audience gets a radically opposite picture of what it gets in the first shot of speech.

The plays I had seen earlier like Final Rehearsal had only one character, Iti Ninna Amritha had only two characters. But here it was something different. The live character had to cope with the recorded show. And man, does not she act well!! For one complete hour, Arundathi competes with her own image, manages to deliver absolutely glitchless dialogues, maintains hitch pitch, coupled with impressive facial expressions.

The narration, direction and performance could have lost the track at so many places, which it didn’t and this is the high point of the show. In my overall rating, this play might still rate lower than Iti Ninna Amritha amd probably Final Rehearsal, because of the rich content, pace, striking emotions and just-right comedy in the other two.
And it also depends on other factors that affect the mindset while watching.

But, nonetheless, it was a brilliant show!


9 comments to...
“A heap of broken images”
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shivani

I've seen Karnad's plays but this will be special with him directing. I'm going to see the play today, and I'm excited.


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Rk

Shivani,
Thats nice. Let me know about your views on the play.


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shivani

You know, the first 15-20 minutes will have you believe this play is about a Kannada writer writing in English, and how she deals with it publically and personally. It has you believing that Karnad is probably expressing what he went through.

It's only later that you realize, pleasantly, that this is actually theatre for threatre's sake. It's a well crafted plot with a surprise ending. Pretty much what you'd expect when you go for any play.

I think it's boring to do plays to drive home a great big social message. It's fine only sometimes. But not when the art loses out.. When I walk out of a play, I want to remember the plot, the surprise, the acting, the sets, the lighting, the costume. I don't want to be thinking of some big social issues.


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Ram K

i saw the kannada version. liked it because karnad has moved away from his mythological preoccupations, and is drawing inspiration from contemporary life. (one earlier play he set in our times is anju mallige). overall, odakalu bimba (called a heap of broken images in english) is a slick production, putting to impressive use computer and media-age gadgetry: the main character talks to her own image on a tv screen). those interested in split personality conflicts might also want to watch the recent tamil film anniyan starring vikram and directed by shankar; be warned that it promotes a very scary vigilantism though. karnad's ouvre is of course more middle class, more concerned with the world of letters. the life of the intellect and the life of worldly ambition vie in his protagonist manjula nayak, and ultimately the play ends somewhat like a tame whodunit. the much written about kannada-english intellectual conflict is just a red herring: the play is not concerned with it at all.


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Ram K

It would have been interesting to know what Karnad might have had to say about the Kannada-English debate. He's one of those equally at ease in two languages. Yet he chooses to write primarily in Kannada, presumably because he finds its creative milieu more enriching and inspiring than the English…


Avatar
rk

Shivani,
I agree that most of us watch art (movies,plays) for entertainment. But given that it is a very effective medium, there is only gain and no harm if it can drive home a strong message. But on the other hand, just entertainment is better than if they try to mix entertainment and message-driving and fail badly at the latter.
Ram,
Appreciate your observation !


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shivani

rk,
What you say is right. I guess it's state of mind that determines what you enjoy or look for.


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shivani

Hi,
Do you have any more play reviews I could read?


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rk

Shivani,

Am happy to know you would like to read my other reviews! There is a link for Play reviews, if you have not checked here it is.

If you did, thats all I have – 4 reviews and a post about Rangashankara itself, where I watched all this.

Thanks and keep dropping in.


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