"To add my own blend of intense spirituality (Adhyatma in the Upanishadic sense,
of the unrighteous king), social actions (again of the unrighteous kind) and just
the practice of theater as a social action are themselves a demanding aesthetic
process and spiritual probing. Yes, I am full of contradictions, ambiguities,
and ambivalence. So is this play, the world and life. We try orchestrating all
that into deep, truthful harmony on board- 'Mattibandi'", voices S Raghunandana,
the director of Mritchakatika.
'Good Guys Die, Too' is the message that is sought to be conveyed through this
modified rendering of Mritchakatikam, which will show the problem of love, revolution
and renunciation in the play through a directorial soliloquy.
The text is endlessly rich, fascinating and deceptively romanticized. Charudatha,
the hero, is generally played as ineffectual, a romantic weakling. In most productions
he is seen as an unwitting bewildered martyr. But this thin Dheera Shanta Nayaka
is actually a friend of a rebel leader and a cowherd Aryaka. Charudatha remains
silent in court mainly to protect Aryaka, and not merely out of love for Vasantasena.
In this rendering, Charudatha is played as a strong, warm, generous, courageous
and sensitive hero.
"The bottomline in this production is that Charudatha dies - he's beheaded. Good
guys also sometimes, actually many times, die! So that the great cosmic play may
go on, they sacrifice themselves. Here, too, Vasantasena renounces the world.
But the cosmic play goes on. So also the Mritchakatikam will live on…," says the
director of the changes in the script through his reinterpretations.
Janapadam is a company of semi-urban actors and a family of not very literate
actors belonging to the Chindu Bhagotham, the Dalit Theater tradition of Andhra
Pradesh. None of them has any exposure to modern theater; many of them have no
exposure to any kind of theater at all. And to 'do' the Mritchakatikam as their
first production, as part of their training in the basics of modern theater, is
Raghunandana, a Kannadiga, is a leading stage director and theater guru of national
repute. He is also a poet and playwright in Kannada.
The Janapadam Nataka Repertory claims to be the only modern theater repertory
in Andhra Pradesh. It performs plays and has been working with different communities
and castes through theater for the last 15 years. Janapadam not only stages plays
in modern theatrical techniques but also presents reinterpretations of themes
and changes stereotypical endings. And this modified rendering of Mritchakatikam
is well in tune with it's philosophy of presenting modern interpretations of plays
using tribal performers.
Janapadam has now staged over 50 plays throughout the state, which include major
productions like 'Vooregimpu', 'Donga Sattayya', 'Movonate Mavoraj', 'Adijamba
Puranam', 'Kallu', 'Yedi Mane Dalyade' and 'Jagannadha Ratha Chakralu'. Currently,
Janapadam is working under IFA's Art Collaboration Programs, collaborating with
the 'Chindu Bhagotham' group, and with the association of Kuchipudi dancer Aruna
Denchalana Srinivas, the chief functionary and director of the Janapadam Repertory,
received his theater training under the renowned theatrical personality Habib
Tanvir. His directorial work includes adaptations and plays written by himself.
He has also worked with the Gond, Lambada, and Chenchu tribes. He has directed
as many as 50 plays, and has written four full-length plays, apart from publishing
a poetry collection titled 'Guri Tappina Padhyam'.