The stage was transformed. Actors donned in varied roles of the great epics Mahabharata
and Ramayana appeared rendering those punctiliously grammatical and Sanskritized
prose passages and heavy yet timeless dialogues. Headgears, shoulder pads, chest
belts, great heroes and compelling villains… for the audience it was a wholesome
treat of mythological drama.
This elaborate program staged by Sri Sai Kala Sravanthi attracted scriptwriters,
actors, directors and music composers, including cinema personalities, for an
elaborate talk on and discussion of the subject of traditional drama. Two days
of competitions were followed by the presentations of the prizewinners.
Most of the chosen themes were from the legendary tales like "Pandovodhyagam"
and melodramatic scenes like "Mayasabha and Duryodhana". Watching these playlets
and mono acting - 'Ekapatrabhinayams' - in a series of presentations surprised
you at how much talent there is in the state. It is sad that these actors and
their theater has become almost extinct due to popular entertainment. Except for
a few dedicated organizations like Sri Sai Kala Sravanthi, which is striving to
bring the talent to the fore again for a newer audience, there is hardly any patronage
Among the many plays, "Dwaraka Drushyam" (scenes from the Dwaraka) was colorful and impressive. Actors Padmapriya, Jeeva Ratnam and Maladri enacted the roles of Krishna, Arjuna and Duryodhana respectively in a heavy dialogue drama. T Rajababu aptly composed mood music, which prompted each discourse of the trio.
Among the Ekapatrabinayas, "Mayasabhalo Duryodhana" remained the favourite. Banda Venkata Ramana, with thick moustache and supercilious eyebrows, enters into an illusive palace only to get flattened by its beauty and get fooled over and over again. Agitated and insulted, he finds Draupadi's laughter haunting him… and that gives rise to the historic war.
Yet another narrative by Kanakambaram and Warrior, donned as Krishna and Karna respectively, was a moving episode from 'Pandavodhyagam'. Later in the festival, a Kuchipudi dancer Pratibha, blending the mode of Kuchipudi dance (which has actually evolved from a theater tradition) and the 'Padhya Nataka' mode, performed a series of dance pieces based on the compositions of Annamacharya.
Senior artists like music composers Yella Pragada Ramachandra Rao, T Raja Babu and actor B Kanakambaram were honored for their extensive services in the field of traditional theater and mono-acting, while a number of young and next generation musicians and actors of traditional theater were also felicitated for keeping interest in the fading art form alive.
The attendance of a huge audience seemed promising of a newer patronage.