When the focus wasn't only on Vrindavan widows
Radha staged by the second year students of National School of Drama (NSD) was a play that revolved around the helpless women living in ashrams of Vrindavan.
The act was devised keeping the marginalised existence and their displacement as central theme, which later grew to take a broader view of the concerns and conditions of a traditional art and artistes.
Directed by Tripurari Sharma, professor of acting at the institute, the play highlights how the city of Lord Krishna has become home to women who are abandoned by their families for being widows or are forced to leave their homes due to some orthodox social beliefs. Worse, these helpless women, are forced to live a life of deprivation, with their expectations smothered and forced to follow the path of religion and spirituality.
The director presented the virtual image of her provoking and soulful experience after she visited Vrindavan for the first time. The story is narrated by a young man who has come to the city to search for his aunt who looked after him in his growing years. As he begins his journey he is reminded of the good times he had with her, which is given a virtual image through the puppets of Krishna and Radha, creating imaginary stories and events. He comes across characters, each distinctive from the others, yet their life being the same – each of them had to make an effort to delve into religious mode.
The three-hour long drama which was staged in three parts in three different areas of the campus – Open Lawn, Bahumukh and Abhimanch, evoked soul-stirring thoughts: How one has to create new reasons to exist when everything is over but you still want to survive? How devotion can seem beautiful and haunting at the same time? Can belief be so liberating? Can chanting Radhe delete all the memories and sufferings? And above all is Vrindavan a destination, twilight or an oasis?
During the act students peformed acrobatics, rope walking, puppetry and Bahurupiya. In the process, the play also highlighted the artiste’s journey from the struggles of a nomadic lifestyle to the challenges of urban existence. The performance was also an attempt to open a dialogue about the condition, problems and struggles ofthe artistes.