Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Theatre Review: “Draupadi” fails to meet the ‘grand’ expectations

In recent times Atul Satya Kaushik’s theatre group, FTS (abbreviated for The Film and Theatre Society) has been quite active in Delhi. Atul has emerged as a Writer and Director, attracting many people in the city with his productions. Interestingly Atul has also tried to explore the saga of the epic Mahabharatha through his writings. One of the many plays written by Atul is “Draupadi”. MTC saw the performance of “Draupadi” at Kamani Auditorium on May 30, 2014.

To start with, the premise of the play is very interesting. A group of women in Harayana are interpreting and exploring the epic Mahabharata from their critical point of view. Women characters from across the generation participate in the discussion. They have to weave a play around the character of “Draupadi”.
While exploring the possibilities of the character, they raise extremely important questions which needs to be critically analysed. The patriarchal structure of society is being questioned. “Draupadi” is a musical play, or as claimed by the theatre group “a Grand Musical Show”. Sadly the musical elements in the play fails to meet our grand expectations, as many actors went off-beat innumerable times while performing. Interestingly the play uses the Raagini tradition from Haryana to start and end the play. This added value to the play though.

“Draupadi” is a decent attempt, but loosely knitted play. Though the script does offer some really hard-hitting dialogues, at many occasions they tend to become melodramatic. The performances of the actors do not justify the huge possibility of the script. The play lacks a good chorus, which was of the utmost importance given the fact that it is essentially a musical production.

The play takes a very interesting stand to represent the character of Draupadi. The playwright metaphorically represents Draupadi through various women actors, deliberately drawing a similarity between Draupadi and the women in today’s world.

There were few very interesting conversations in the play. A song “Mere Char Dinon Ka do Hisaab”, is a conversation between Draupadi and Krishna (the almighty God), regarding the Menstrual Cycle of the women. The song has a very interesting plot which could have been the highlight of the play. But the song went off-beat severely and thus became unimpressive. But another song “Devar Aaya Levne” was extremely impressive with hard hitting visuals of Dussasan trying to grab Draupadi and the song being performed simultaneously.

In the scene when Kauravas ‘molest’ Draupadi in the grand assembly, Atul creates a very strong poetic conversation between Draupadi and others. The long poem “Saari Agar Utar Jaaegi” had extremely hard hitting dialogues. But the actor playing Draupadi made a grammatical mistake in the poem repeatedly when she said “Saari Agar Khul Jaaegi”. If this could have been avoided, one would have had a better experience.

Because the climax scene was a poetic recitation, it became far more hard hitting. Actor playing Draupadi in the climax scene did a very good job and deserves applause for pulling the performance.

Though the play raises important critical questions, and criticizes the basic structure of the society, it failed to impress this audience. But it did receive a good response from a full-house audience in Kamani.

This review was first published in My Theatre Cafe on June 4, 2014

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