Thursday, October 16, 2008

Madhavi at Soorya Festival

The Malayalam version of the Hindi play Madhavi presented by the campus theatre of St. Alberts College with the technical collaboration of Lokadharmi will be performed at Soorya Festival at Co-Bank Auditorium Thiruvanathapuram on the 18th of October 2008, at 7.30 pm. The play is translated into Malayalam by PR Viswambharan, Designed & Directed by Chandradasan. The Music is by Bijibal, Art by Sumesh Chittooran, Lighting by Gireesh Menon, Costumes by Muthumani Somasaundaran and the Make Up by Pradeep Chittoor. The cast of the play include Anitha Joseph, Dijin K Denny, Jithin stephen, Vysakh Lal K, Neethu Mariam Koshy, S Krishnaveni, Gayathri VG, Libin Thomas George V, Shaiju T Hamsa, Pradeep Chittoor, Babu Antony KB, Mebin Pappachan, Vidya PS, Krishnakumar V, Rahul Singh PR, Jyothish Thomas, Dilin Dinesan, Nisha, Aswini, and Minu. All of them are acting in a play for the first time in their life. A quite new experience!

This play is done by the Campus Theatre and the Department of Hindi, St. Alberts College in an attempt to link the academic activities with a creative pursuit, madhavi being the text book for the degree students in their Hindi language class.

Late Bhishma Sahni was a writer of the masses and not of the classes. His characters and stories are based on triumphs and traumas of a common man. The content, the theme, the treatment of the issues in his plays are socially relevant and progressive even if they have historical or mythological base.

In 'Madhavi' Sahni gives an ideological spin to a story drawn from the Mahabharata, while an empathy with the downtrodden is evident.

The storyteller in Madhavi recounts an ancient tale from the Mahabharata. Munikumar Galav must fulfill his promise to his guru Vishwamitra which is his dharma (duty). Yayati the king-turned-ashramite gives away his daughter Madhavi to Galav in an act of generosity. And in between these fixed notions of male pride and honor, lives Madhavi, treated as a mere pawn in the world of masculine action. Blessed with the ability to regain her youth and virginity at will, and the promise that she will mother great kings, she is a valuable asset to the men who use and control her. Till she walks out on them all, denying them the final satisfaction of controlling her will.

Madhavi is not a myth, she is a reality. Madhavi has not been vanquished by history, she still lives either in the self-imposed glory of her sacrifice or the heart-rending solitude of her abandonment.

Madhavi stands amidst the keen stares of men who weigh upon Madhavi's body - her statistics, skin, shapes. She is treated as a prolific son-generating machine and Galav markets her professionally and stoically. He is insensitive to her; moving from harem to harem, leaving a son behind each time.

Yayati gives away his daughter as if she is an inanimate object. Queens who bear daughters are sidelined. By the very nature of the myth, the characters turn wooden. The three kings are just anonymous characters pining for male heirs. Galav, Vishwamitra and Yayati are wooden. But unlike as in the myth, Madhavi is not just a male-bearing womb. She is well portrayed and humanized.

The performance style of the play is direct and transparent which is able to highlight the ideological positions of the various characters and the revolt springing in Madhavi. She offers herself to be traded for herself not out of her love and sympathy for Galav but also as a mark of protest and revenge to the social system that makes women a tool or an inanimate object. The set is simple and suggestive; the acting pattern is subtle and truthful, devoid of artificial melodramatic exuberance. The music is perceived to be the metaphor that represents the male-female conflict in the play. Finally Madhavi merges with the group of female narrators/singers who narrates the saga of Madhavi with silent tears and pain.

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