Lokadharmi is proud and privileged to be invited toKerala Kalamandalam, deemed university of arts and culture to present its play Karnnabharam as part of the 3 day celebrations to mark the 100th year of rediscovering the plays by Mahakavi Bhasa.
Kālidāsa in the introduction to his first play Malavikagnimitram writes - Shall we neglect the works of such illustrious authors as Bhāsa, Saumilla, and Kaviputra? Can the audience feel any respect for the work of a modern poet, a Kālidāsa?
Bhasa, the Sanskrit playwright, was one of the greats of all times, believed to have lived two or three centuries ahead of Kalidasa. As the date for Kālidāsa varies from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE, Bhāsa is dated between the 2nd century BCE and 2nd century CE. Based on the language used, his date is also supposed to be around 5th century BC. Reverential references are seen about the greatness of poet Bhasa in the works of Patanjali, Kalidasa (both first century B.C.), Banabhata, Dandi (both seventh century A.D.), Vamanacharya (eighth century A.D.), and a long line of other poets and critics till 12th century.
The plays of Bhāsa had been lost for centuries. He was known only from mention in other works like the famous text on poetics Kavyamimamsa written during 880-920 AD by Rajashekhara a famous poet, dramatist and critic. In the Kavyamimamsa, he attributes the play Swapnavāsavadatta to Bhāsa.
Dr. T. Ganapati Shastrikal was a scholar and the curator of the Travancore Oriental Manuscripts Library, in Trivandrum, Kerala, India. In 1906 he made a sensational discovery in literary history and then by publishing in 1909, a series of 13 plays, all in Sanskrit. It was a circle of Bhasa's plays, which lay in darkness for more than eight centuries, which were used in Koodiyattam. Unlike other classical plays, none of them mentioned the author, but one was the Swapnavāsavadatta. Comparing the style of writing and techniques employed in these plays and based on the knowledge that Swapnavāsavadatta was Bhāsa's work, all of them were credited to him. Bhāsa does not follow all the dictates of the Natya Shastra. Bhasa deviated from the accepted dramaturgical practices of the day by depicting battle scenes and murder on stage. For example scenes that contains signs of physical violence to be shown on stage in plays like Urubhanga
The Uru-Bhanga and Karna-bhara are the only known tragic Sanskrit plays in ancient India. The Karna-bhara ends with the premonitions of the sad end of Karna, the epic character from Mahabharata. Early plays in India, inspired by Natya Shastra, strictly considered sad endings inappropriate.
The plays are generally short compared to later playwrights and most of them draw the theme from the Indian epics, Mahabharata and Ramayana. Though he is firmly on the side of the heroes of the epic, Bhāsa treats their opponents with great sympathy. He takes a lot of liberties with the story to achieve this.
Plays based on Ramayana
Plays based on Mahabharata
- Panch-ratra: The five-nights
- Madhyama-vyayoga: The middle one
- Duta-Ghattotkacha: Ghattotkacha as envoy
- Duta-Vakya : The envoy's message
- Urubhanga: The broken thigh
- Karna-bhara: Karna's burden
- Harivamsa or Bala-charita: Hari's dynasty or the tale of Childhood
His other plays are not epic based. Avimaraka is a fairy tale. The unfinished Daridra-Charudatta(Charudatta in poverty) tells the story of the courtesan Vasantasena and is interesting for the same story was developed by Śhudraka in Mrichakatika.
His most famous play Swapna-vasavadatta (Swapnavāsavadatta) (Vasavadatta in the dream) and Pratijna-Yaugandharayana (the vow of Yaugandharayana) are based on the legends that had grown around the King Udayana, a contemporary of the Buddha. Though his plays were discovered only in the 20th century, two of them Uru-Bhanga and Karna-bhara, have become popular due to their appeal to modern tastes and performed in translation and Sanskrit.
He had a profound influence on the dramatists that would follow him, including India's greatest poet, Kalidasa.
Bhasa plays are especially suited for stage as they are minimal scripts containing a lot action and conflicts. The scenic splendor of any performance of a Bhasa play makes him an appealing dramatist in the Indian Tradition. He is innovative enough to reinterpret the incidents and characterizations in the great epic with an original vision that transcends the time and space.
Lokadharmi presents the play Karnnabharam at Kalamandalam at 7.00 pm, on 2nd August 2009, the concluding day of the 3 day celebrations that marks the 100th year of discovering Bhasa plays by Ganapati sastrikal. Performance of plays in contemporary perspective and Kudiyattam format written by bhasa, seminar and discossions on Bhasa plays by experts in Sanskrit, and performing arts, meet of directors who have worked with Bhasa plays are the highlight of the 3 day programme from 31st July to 2nd August.
KARNNABHARAM (The anguish of Karnna), The Malayalam adaptation of the Sanskrit Classic Performed by Lokadharmi Kochi Kerala is based on the translation into Malayalam by Kavalam Narayana Panikkar. The Music is scored by Bijibal, Lighting by Gireesh Menon, art by Anup S Kalarikkal, and the Design & Direction is done by aChandradasan.
- This play has won the prestigious awards for Best play, best stage design & best costume design from Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2008.
- Also nominated for best Actor, best Ensemble and best Choreography in the festival
Lokadharmi had performed Karnnabharam widely all over in India including Visakhapatnam, Hyderabad and Vijayanagaram in Andhra Pradesh, Kolkota (Bengal), Mysore, Bangaluru, Gulbarga, (Karnataka), Jagdalpur (Chatisgad), Cuttack (Orissa), Patna (Bihar), New Delhi, and Kurukshethra (Hariyana).
This play is performed widely in major theatre festivals all over India including Bharath Rang Mahotsav New Delhi 2006.
This is the 320th show of the play.
The artists traveling to perform the play are Sudheer Babu, VR Selvaraj, Sijin Sukumar, Madan Kolavil, Sebastian K Abraham, Jyothi Madan, Jolly Antony, Shyju T Hamsa, Vysakh Lal, Sumesh Chittooran, Santhosh Piravam, Ajaikumar Thiruvankulam, Sanosh Palluruthy, Aadarsh Madhav, Jebin Jesmes, Gireesh Menon, Anoop S Kalarikkal and Chandradasan.