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The curse of beauty

ROMESH CHANDER

Parvatiya Kala Kendra's latest play "Kagaar Ki Aag" presented a story of a beautiful woman and her fight for survival.



BEAUTIFUL PLAY A scene from "Kagaar Ki Aag"

Delhi-based Parvatiya Kala Kendra was founded by the late Mohan Upreti whose contribution to the development of opera in Kamauni, a language spoken in Uttaranchal, stands shoulder to shoulder with Sheila Bhatia's contribution to Punjabi opera. Both composer-writers drew their inspiration from folk forms and ballads of the region. More than 15 years have passed since Sheila's all-time masterpiece "Heer Ranjha" was last seen on the Delhi stage and the same is true of Mohan Upreti's "Rajula Malushi". Surely it is time that these operas were on the boards once again, not only because these two classics must be seen by a younger generation but also because young theatregoers may have heard about the presentations but never seen.

Then again the presentations have a historic importance for our theatre movement as also for theatre historians and researchers.

Fight for survival

Of late there have been some rumours of reviving Sheila's "Heer Ranjha" but we are told, is bogged down by some petty differences between the writer and the producer. One hopes the differences are sorted out for like some of the world classics Sheila's "Heer Ranjha" too must live on.

To come back to Parvatiya Kala Kendra's latest play "Kagaar Ki Aag" based on Himanshu Joshi's Hindi novel of the same title, unlike most of the Company's earlier presentations is not a musical but a straight play with a chorus and one or two songs thrown in. It is the story of a woman Gomti and her fight for survival against Kal Ram a rich man of the village and brother of Gomti's, father-in-law. Kal Ram has not only usurped Gomti's land but has also made her husband into a bonded labour and now has an eye on beautiful Gomti who has been repulsing his advances.

One day when he makes advances towards her she defends herself with a sickle and so begin more and more atrocities against Gomti and her family. Teju, Kal Ram's son too has an eye on Gomti and one night he tries to outrage her modesty.

As a last resort she turns into Chandi, the destroyer of evil and sets Teju's and his father's house on fire and disappears from the village for ever and even today, suffering from the guilt, the villagers often see here ghost and hear her cry every night.

Decent production

A passable production directed by Lokendra Trivedi with some good acting thrown in by Gopal Singh as Khemuka, Sudhir Rekhan playing as Gomati's husband, a bonded labourer and Ashima Pandey as the mother and of course Ruchi Joshi as the brave Gomti who stole the show.

The chorus lead by Pushpa Bagga and the dancers lend good support to the presentation but we missed Mohan Upreti's music that we can never forget.

To keep alive Upreti's legacy we hope Parvatiya Kala Kendra will give us more and more musicals and operas rather than the usual of the mill straight plays.

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