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Romantic comedy

`Natakam' by D.V. Narasaraj, an adaptation of the Wodehouse work `The Play is The Thing', was staged as part of the festival for rare plays.



SOCIAL DRAMA A scene from the play `Punarjanma'.

The Telugu play Natakam, an adaptation of the Wodehouse work The Play is The Thing by D.V. Narasaraju, noted playwright and film script writer, was presented at Ravindra Bharathi last week as part of the festival of rare plays - Ee Tharam Prekshakulaku - Krindati Tharam Natakalu, held jointly by the Department of Culture, Andhra Pradesh and Rasaranjani theatre group.

The play was written in 1951 and was staged by Udayini Theatres and Raghava Kalamandali together at Vijayawada. The comedy was so effective back that it paved the way for Narasaraju to enter Telugu cinema as scriptwriter. Natakam is a romantic comedy. The hero Madhu is in love with Urvasi. He overhears a conversation between Urvasi and Kamaraju, another young suitor of the girl and gets disturbed. Raghupati, Urvasi's uncle who overhears the discussion as well turns the tide in favour of Urvasi and Madhu. He conspires with Urvasi advising her to pretend that she was only rehearsing for her next drama with Kamaraju and what they spoke to each other was a dialogue and not real discussion.

Thanks to Raghupati's resourceful plan and the actual enacting of the play on the following evening at a theatre by Urvasi and Kamaraju, Madhu relents and returns to the fold of Urvasi. Subtle humour and a bit of situational comedy marked the production. N. Sarathkumar's portrayal of Raghupati was one of the histrionic highlights. Amarendra, who is the director of this production, played the other important role of Kamaraju. Kalyani enacted the role of Urvasi while Pundarikaksha Sarma played Madhu. M. Venkateswarlu, Nittala Srirammurthy and D Veerabhadram were in other important roles. The play was staged by Adarsha Yuva Bharati .

Absorbing social play

Another Telugu play, Punarjanma by Bellamkonda Ramadasu, written in 1955 was also staged as part of the festival. The play deals with the rebirth of a woman driven to prostitution by circumstances and then her fight to mainstream life as a married woman. Hence the title Punarjanma.

The rehabilitation process is set in the backdrop of the family into which the woman will enter as a wife. This proves to be no easy task for the family, which is conscious of self respect and honour. Things take a twist when a young man in the family commits the "blunder" of promising to marry the woman, not knowing that she had already been mauled by a rogue who pushed her into prostitution.

Betrayal

Syamala, the victim, is ditched by Kumar who pretended to love her but later retracts citing parental opposition. Sometime later, Shyamala happens to meet one Dr Murthy, who comes on a visit to the town. He gets attracted to her and proposes marriage.

When the girl wants to reveal her past, he says he is not bothered about it. Marriage takes place in the usual traditional process. Everything goes well until Kumar enters her life again.

He starts blackmailing Shyamala by threatening to show certain damaging photographs to her father-in-law, Janardhana Rao.

Right rebuff

A widower, Rao finds in Shyamala a real service minded woman and a victim of circumstances. The father and son duo on coming to know Kumar's intentions neck him out of the house. But Kumar goes to the doctor's nursing home and makes public his past relations with Shyamala. A psychological drama follows. But the bold decision the old man takes to drive Kumar out of the house and then defend his daughter-in-law, makes Shyamala feel secure once again.

Natya Bharathi of Visakhapatnam presented this play. Director A. Gopalakrishna, handled the subject well and extracted impressive performances, especially from D.Vijayalakshmi who donned the role of Shyamala. I.K. Trinatha Rao (Dr. Murthy), Chalasani Krishna Prasad (Kumar) M. Pattabhi Rama Rao (as father-in-law) .lived up to their roles very well. Ranga Rao, Appanna Kumar and S. Dhanalakshmi also played their roles well.

Bellamkonda Ramadasu wrote this play for Udayini theatre group of Vijayawada. It won a number of awards at various events. On the occasion Dr C. Narayana Reddy felicitated veteran actress of stage and screen, Nirmalamma, who played Shyamala in the first production.

GUDIPOODI SRIHARI

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