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Remembering the Mahatma

The debut staging of Vijay Bhaskar's satire `Gandhi Jayanti' in Hindi was a well-coordinated attempt.



A scene from the play.

WHAT WOULD be the reaction of Mahatma Gandhi if he returned to earth and watched what happened to India in these five decades of his absence? This thought spurred in the mind of Nandi award winning popular playwright of this generation of young playwrights, Vijay Bhaskar. The result was an interesting play in Telugu, titled `Gandhi Jayanti' that had good number of staging, directed by noted stage and film actor J.V. Ramanamurthy, himself playing the role of Mahatma.

The play became so popular that, now, its Hindi translation by Shanta Sundari, had its debut staging at Ravindra Bharati in Hyderabad last week, directed by renowned theatre personality of Hindi and Marathi plays, Bhaskar Shewalkar, who was in the faculty of Theatre Arts department, University of Hyderabad. The play was staged under the aegis of Samaikya Bharati.

The theme starts off with an imaginary situation with Mahatma descending to his motherland on a `Gandhi Jayanti' day and ends with his threat that he would take birth time and again on this land to teach lessons to the corrupt in all walks of life. The very opening of the play had a satirical observation, showing Mahatma placed in Yama's `hell', instead of `heaven', as he was blamed for bringing independence to wrong people of this country.

Yama sends him down on parole to watch what resulted during these five decades of Independence. Gandhi comes to earth and witnesses shocking scenes happening around him. Finally, the Mahatma is framed in a murder and the court proclaims death sentence to the Mahatma. The play ends with Gandhi's second death.

The Hindi translation retained the flavour of the original and all the artistes displayed sense for drama, understanding the spirit of the roles they played. Vijay Varma played Mahatma, but looked quite young to play that role. Dilip was made up to look like Tagore, Rajesh Mehra as Yamaraj, Sanjay Thakur as Chitragupt, in the initial scenes acquitted themselves well. Prajaktta as opposition leader with Dilip, Mohit, Anil, and Srinivas in other roles gave a well-coordinated attempt to breath life into the play. The play was published as a book, which was released by freedom fighter and former minister, M.S. Rajalingam to whom it was dedicated.

G.S.

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