Rangashankara – Sankramana
This was an awesome play, one of the best ones I have seen. This is a Hindi play translated to Kannada and directed by S.Surendranath – director of “Nodi swami navirode heege” movie. The play also marks the return (or debut ??) of Girija Lokesh to stage after many years.
Its quite easy to see why I like this very much because it was so easy for me to identify with it. The stage setting is white everywhere (( Tide could utilize the oppurtunity (just like they did to few movies) and sponsor the play so that more people could watch it! )) – one white painted stool, a white painted chair and table, one white cloth on the floor. There is a table fan sitting idle at the corner of the stool and there is only one time it is ever used – and what a stunning impact it leaves. There is a light bulb hung and just like the fan, this is lit up only once.
My intepretation about the usage of white so prominently – other than to depict widow’s saree for a cultural reason or to show simplicity in the father’s character – is that, it suggests how only one sided their views are. No black and white – no two possibilities, no two explanations – just one -and one’s own – belief.
There are three characters in the stage – but they never come on stage at once (except for a second, mother and son come together) and I can easily call it a collection of three mono-acts and monologues. But the acts are tightly coupled.
The intent is actually to show how one’s actions are in this family, why according to him his actions are like the way they are and how another person in the family views it differently. Some views and counter-views like that, slightly highlighting generation gap.
The first scene is that of a widow, cleaning the cotton, describes how her husband has been admitted to hospital, how he died. In next few scenes with the mother, she recalls how her husband had reacted at his retirement and going a little back how he had dreamt and built his house and few other smaller details. She also narrates how her son behaved earlier and how he reacted in hospital.
In between her many appearances are present one stellar performance by SihiKahiChandru in the role of the father. It was the longest monologue – almost an hour and one should see to believe it. There were plenty of opportunities to go out of sequence, or to use our own lines as long as it made sense (but I doubt he did that !), but still it was one superb show.
Then comes that of son’s, acted by Manjunath Hegde, another class act. During his part is the success of the play, for the very same audience who had accepted and clapped to every action of father as right, claps and agrees again to that of son’s. At this point director had clearly succeded in making the audience realize how different the viewpoint is and how both can be right.
Both father and son, though rant and talk seriously, have audience in split, or rather in crack. Yes, even the issue is not fun, it is shown in the lighter vein giving the audience great comic relief.
Mother’s is not very strong character for the drama. She appears few times but with shorter durations compared to other two. Also I failed to understand why her part is set in the present while the son’s and father’s are actually set in the past. Though the mother’s role adds sorrow, sympathy and also it shows her as a strong person. She keeps calm when her husband dies and she was calm earlier too – somehow managing both polarities in son and husband. This is so very typical.
Many incidents like the collection-repair of locks, lazy-irresponsible son, wearing pant only after reaching college, house repair issues and various various other things are so very common in normal household – which is the reason audience too enjoyed it! Keeping the door open, not switching off the lights, lock , returning home early etc were some of the very very real life scenarios. Nicely captured and presented. One of the superb funny lines is when son is questioning his father’s direction to return home because of the increasing crimes in the city. Son ponders “If I return home earlier, will the crime outside reduce? “ So tongue-in-cheek !
Even though the son’s views are totally opposite to that of father’s, once his father expires he follows his father’s actions in a hyper-active or maniac fashion. There is the irony, there is the highest point for the play and there is so much untold meaning in those small actions and thats where the play ends. (Audience expected more but it made perfect sense to end!)
No music (except water dropping sound in the background), no lighting effects, no changes in the sets, it is the most simplest arrangement for a play I have seen!
Overall it is a combination of vyangya, tarka, vidambane and haasya.
1. One old couple talking was loud enough to hear to entire audi and of course to observation of artists too. Even continued stares from the neighbours did not discourage them from talking loud. Another lady, yawned making audible sound, which was too another irritant.
2. In another play too, there were two ladies who laughed almost hysterically and sometimes when not needed. RS people take enough care to silence/switch off the mobile phones, what could be done to these throats ?