‘Shatamanam Bhavathi’ makes a bold effort

‘Shatamanam Bhavathi’ makes a bold effort

The Yakshagana prasanga needs a tighter screenplay and should pay greater attention to character detailing

Thandimane Shripad Bhat and Annappa Gowda in ‘Shatamanam Bhavathi’ in Bengaluru. DH photo by Chitra Phalguni

Yakshagana prasanga, ‘Shatamanam Bhavathi’, was presented recently by the Sri Anantapadmanabha Yakshagana Mandali troupe of Perdoor at Ravindra Kalakshetra. The tale, which talks about who really is a monk, is written by Pavan Kirankere, Department of PG Studies in Commerce, Alva’s College, Moodbidri. The troupe has presented more than 75 shows so far.

There is a monk with a desire for revenge and the throne. There is a lovestruck girl who marries a dedicated but dispassionate soldier. The story has rogues in the form of a courtier, some beggars, the queen and even a crematorium guard. The brave stop the tricksters at every step, but the king, blinded by faith in saffron, sees their true colours too late. How justice triumphs forms the story.

The Bhagavathas, Balakal Prasanna Bhat and the senior Raghavendra Achar Jansale, and the percussionists do a good job with the music. The coordination between the musicians and artistes is appreciable. However, some melodious songs seem trimmed, especially for lead characters. The songs of the antagonists are brilliantly presented by well-versed artistes — the monk and the queen dancing together behind the king’s back and the guard wooing the king’s sister are the best.

As is typical of Yakshagana, there is no gore on stage, but I wondered if so many heads had to fall to pass the message. The essence of an eight-hour episode on such a strong, contemporary issue gets greatly diluted by excessive albeit clean humour. The entire story is just about an hour long. 

Though Yakshagana conventionally pays greater attention to the grey characters, the protagonists do get to present themselves well enough. Here, the conners and humourists get time to flourish, while tales of the good lack detail. The subtext, therefore, shifts to blind devotion in different forms. The king takes orders from the monk and the queen easily. Ironically, his innocent sister uses more logic in a relationship than her husband, who fights the monk, but enters wedlock only to follow the king’s order. The prasanga feels more like a dance drama with humour than conventional Yakshagana - ‘shringara’ and ‘hasya’ getting precedence over ‘veera’ a little too much. 

The monk who usurps the throne is the most powerful and best-developed character, played brilliantly by Thandimane Shripad Bhat. Followed by Yalaguppa Subrahmanya Hegde as the love-struck, confused, forlorn wife of the soldier and Beejamakki Vijay Ganiga as the cunning queen. Ravindra Devadiga, Ramesh Bhandari and Purandara Moodkani give us controlled humour. Annappa Gowda presents the obtuse king well. Senior artiste Jalavalli Vidyadhar Rao needs to present the soldier with greater flourish as the hero seems a tad dull for a fighter. Veteran Thirthahalli Gopal Achar is energetic in the soldier’s second round and a delight to watch. Prakash Mogaveer Kiradi’s guard turned conning courtier is interesting. His chemistry with the heroine is worth a mention – definitely better than the lead characters! The younger artistes too show promise in their dance and dialogue delivery.