Brilliant portrayal of emotions

Theatre Festival

Dramatic : Scenes from Abhijnana Shakuntalam.

The show was presented by Natana Kairali, a troupe from Kerala, and directed by Gopal Venu.

Abhijnana Shakuntalam was presented in the form of Kutiyattam, a Sanskrit theatre folk form from Kerala. Kutiyattam is supposed to be one of the oldest forms of theatre with its origin being traced back to 2000 years. An excerpt from the Mahabharatha, Abhijnana Shakuntalam is a tale of sublime love.

The play began with a customary resounding of drums leaving the audience spellbound. The characters entered the stage dressed in the quintessential Kerala folk costume, rich in splendour and tradition.

The narrative began with sage Kanva bidding farewell to Shakuntala as she sets off to her husband’s abode. The emotions of a father separating from his daughter were vividly expressed with both ecstasy and agony articulated brilliantly through eye and hand movements.

The second half of the story unfolded with King Dushyanta claiming he has not married her. He also questions her purity and suspects her pregnancy. The helplessness of a woman and her victimisation were brilliantly portrayed and the emotions of fear, defeat and crest-fallen state were expressed with a shrill cry and anger towards the king.

The last part of the story consisted of a fisherman finding a ring in the belly of a fish and being caught by the guards who summon him to the king. The comic relief in this narrative were provided by the humourous expressions of the fisherman in his state of helplessness when caught by the guards. Finally, Dushyanta realises his follies and accepts Shakuntala as his wife.

Ramdas, a former professor of literature, found it to be a rivetting performance. “I could see an image, an event and an imagery unfolding before my eyes. It was so masterly for the mind to look and examine the narrative in all aspects. The whole idea is submerged in the total economy of the play which makes one behold and reflect on it,” he said.

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