Dramatic depiction of the epics

NARRATIVE TECHNIQUE

When names like Tom Alter, Charu Shankar, Bhavini Mishra and Chander Khanna are mentioned as the cast in a performance, the expectations are understandably high.

The actual performance, however, left behind imprints of individual characters, rather than memories of a wholesome show! Performed at India Habitat Centre, Miran Productions’ Re-visiting the Epics was a recap of some of the popular and not so popular stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharat.

Directed by Sujata Soni Bali, the hour-long theatrical production fused dance, drama and narrative. It interwove four stories - Ravan seeking help for the war against Lord Ram; Sita’s Agni Pariksha (or Sita’s trial by fire; Mahabharat’s Game of dice and Jayadrath’s Vadh (or Slaying of Jayadrath).

The narration by Tom Alter was interspersed with choreographed pieces by Urshila Dance Company. While Charu dressed as the elegant Sita began the performance, depicting the melancholic state of the princess kidnapped by Ravan; she concluded the performance in a contemporary avatar, speaking about women’s depiction in epics and discussing the same with Tom Alter.

Tom Alter, the veteran was at his best and his deep baritone gave a new leash to the interpretations of stories. Even his yawn that sought to imitate the perennial sleeper Kumbhakarna, transported the audience back to Satyug!

After his dramatic rendition of the Ramayana, the audience was taken to the Duapar Yug or the time of Mahabharat where veteran Chander Khanna narrated Maithilisharan Gupt’s poetry on Jayadrath’s Vadh, with gestures and impactful voice modulation.  The solo dance piece by Bhavini Mishra - portrayed a traumatised Draupadi after she was humiliated in public during the Game of Dice. Performed on the sholakas, this piece was only outdone by Bhavini’s male students who displayed their prowess through Kallaripayattu – when they enacted the Chakravuyh  – where Abhimanyu is trapped.

The sound and lights especially to communicate a war-like situation was well-composed and definitely merits a special mention. However, the script was not as strong as the performances and the show did not work as expected. Tom tried his best to hold it together but the loopholes in production could not be overlooked and the performance failed to create a ‘wow’ effect since there was too much stuffed in one capsule!

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