This was the play seen during the Diwali Offs, on Kannada Rajyothsava, to be precise, at Rangashankara. I am glad that directly or indirectly I was responsible for 13 people to visit the place and witness the play that day.
The program started with an introduction about the “Habba” – festival that was being celebrated to commemorate one year celebrations of RS. Introduction was by the very Arundathi Nag explaining about the various events planned and organised for the festival like workshops, platform plays and various plays written by eminent modern writers of different languages. Experiments also involved playing in other language than the one in which it is originally written.
The play finished much later than scheduled and hence customary character introduction was also skipped.
About the play:
It started with an old man (of low caste – Kuruba) complaining and explaining about the restrictions posed by the “Sharanas” and Basavanna. The restrictions would imply a stricter and nobler way of living and requires one to denounce bad habits like drinking, eating non-veg and womanizing.
Old man’s son and a priest’s daughter (high class – Brahman) are in love with each other. The son has recently become Sharana and is a devotee and follower of Basavanna. Girl is against the philosophies and ways of working of Sharana or Anna. The conflicts of idealisms lead to the quarrel leading to an unpleasant incident which causes communal riots and King is in a tricky position.
Basavanna is an adviser and a friend of King. But King himself is very just and knows the delicacy of the situation. He calls for both Basavanna and Priest to his court and listens to their complaints and defenses. He also calls for the girl.
After a long discussion with Basavanna and using his own ways of providing justice which is not only backed by sound reasoning but also supported by rich experience, King decides to visit the village and declare his verdict.
The performace by Sihikahi Chandru (King Bijjala) was outstanding mostly decorated by a near perfect dialogue delivery. Leading lady was also remarkable displaying control over her performance. And father (played by KSL Swamy Ravi) – I am not sure…) left a mark with screen presence.
Except for the first scene where the dialogues were rich with uncomfortable (and unnecessary) profanities, the dialogues were profound part of the play. It (especially during the classic argument between Basavanna and King) was too complicated and abstract to be followed ( by me…It was one of the few occassions when I have not been able to follow the parallel meaning completely). There was sparkles of humour here and there (mostly managed by mannerisms and timing of Sihikahi Chandru).
Sankranti is by P.Lankesh and it was directed by Prakash Belawadi. The audience had good number of cine/theater actors.
Overall, a strong script supported ably by good performances and direction resulted in a sensible play (heavy on thoughts but low on entertainment).