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Tampered scripts in drama fest

The social play `Maa Bhoomi', that kickstarted a festival of rare dramas at Ravindra Bharathi, was performed out of context.

Has anyone the right to change the script of a play written by celebrated authors by adding their imagination to the presentation? This is the question that arose during the course of the festival of rare dramas being held at Ravindra Bharathi. After all, the purpose of the fest should be to introduce old plays to the present generation of audience.

The play Maa Bhoomi, that opened the festival, jointly organised by the Department of Culture and Rasaranjani, was a case in point. A total of seven plays, considered masterpieces, were chosen for the event which was titled Eetaram Prekshkulaku - Krinkdati Taram Naatakaalu. Spandana Arts of Ongole, the theatre unit entrusted with running the show, practically mauled the very spirit of the production by adopting the ancient Veedhi Natakam technique that gives the reins of running the drama to the Sutradhara, the Nati and their chorus group. Their interference on and off, during the run of Maa Bhoomi's main theme, not only disturbed the narration but also slowed it down.

This was not the intention of the original scriptwriters, who wanted to do away with such a technique and instead render a straight and powerful narration of this real life drama. . But what we saw on Monday evening was a very soft and routine version of the fiery play. To top it all, the performing theatre unit added their own songs and dialogues.

Playwrights Sunkara Satyanarayana and Vasireddi Bhaskara Rao started the play with a song eulogising the real life character of `Bandagi', who sacrificed his life fighting for the cause of Telangana farmers. This built the tempo for take off. A couple of noted actors who played roles in the original production of Maa Bhoomi were also present in the auditorium. For them, the experience was alarming as the script was actually inspired by real life drama dealing with the demonic rule of Deshmukhs and Patwaries especially in Nalgonda area.

Milkkilineni Radha Krishna Murthy, who played the lead character of Veera Reddy in the very first production of this play in Forties, was felicitated on the occasion. He is 90 years old now. He recalled some of the incidents associated with this production, including their staging it in the presence of Prithviraj Kapoor and other stalwarts in Bombay.

GUDIPOODI SRIHARI

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