Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gangaavatarana (ಗಂಗಾವತರಣ )

Play:Gangaavatarana (ಗಂಗಾವತರಣ )
Language: Kannada
Duration: ~95 minutes
Genre: Dance Drama
Rating: Must Watch
Troup: Ranga souraba

Director: Dr Rajendra Karanth. 

"ಬೇಂದ್ರೆಯ ತ್ಯಾಗ ಅರದಿಲ್ಲವನು ಬೇಂದ್ರೆಯ ರಾಗ ಅರೆಯುವನೆ?", One cannot understand Bendre's works if he cannot understand Bendre's Sacrifices. This was one of the concluding remarks of the play "Gangaavatarana" which i saw a few days back at Rangashankara.  This aptly applies to me since i am trying to articulate an exceptional dance drama about the life, works and thoughts of Varakavi Dr Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre.

It is not easy to understand the works of Dr Bendre let alone writing about it. However , i am making a humble attempt of writing about a masterpiece of art that i saw.  Its not easy to articulate art particularly for a person like me who has no experience in writing or art. However it is an attempt. 

The play was weaved around the life, works and thoughts of Gnanapeeta award winner  Varakavi Dr. Dattatreya Ramachandra Bendre (1896-1981). The main protagonist of the play was Ganesh murthy, a scholar who is obsessed with the idea of Dr Bendre. The play starts with his own unhappiness about his PhD thesis which will be on Dr Bendre. He withdraws his thesis much to the dislike of his wife. (Who would be in anticipation of few thousand extra salary that the phD would have fetched him).   

Ganesh Murthy will be fighting two battles at at a time. One within himself for the quest for the divinity which Dr Bendre possessed which made Dr Bendre produce his master works and the other on the domestic side, where he will be constantly bombarded with domestic chores.  Ganesh murthy's wife and her nephew will be behind Ganesh murthy to leave his obsession about Dr Bendre and write songs and serials for the audience of the day and time. (The "Amma Loose a" category)  

To aid his former quest, an abstract character is introduced into the play. Dr Rajendra karanth who plays the role of the soul (Athma) of the play (of Dr Bendre). The conversation between Dr Karanth (soul) and Ganesh murthy takes the audience into a captivating lovely narration about certain facets of Dr Bendre's life. The character of Dr Bendre is introduced here.  From here, the play splits into two threads. 

On one side, the soul will be watching Ganesh murthy struggling to convince his wife and other people in his family about his quest for knowledge and changes required in the society. He would be making futile attempts with the music directors to adopt his lyrics for their films. His family life keeps degrading to the point of frustration. 

On the other side, The soul would be conversing with Ganesh murthy on the need for a greater attainment, on the search for the true motivation which was behind Dr Bendre. Brilliant anecdotes from the life of Dr Bendre are enacted here. Notable among them are Dr Bendre's grief on the death of his child, his conversation with the astrologer, his conversation with the cobbler etc. It goes on to draw a vivid picture of Dr Bendre's personality.  In one conversation, Dr Bendre asks a beggar "ಏನಪ್ಪಾ ಎರಡು ದಿನದಿಂದ ಕಾಣಲಿಲ್ಲ?" (Where were you from the last two days?). He gives him his quota of money for the next three days and tells him "ನಾಡಿದ್ದು ಬಾ ಮತ್ತೆ"(come again day after tomorrow). That was Dr Bendre's affection for people. In  another similar incident, he pays a cobbler his full day's earning and asks him to get an umbrella instead of sitting in the hot sun. That was Bendre's concern for the people. 

Back home, Ganesh's murthy's domestic trouble continues and he finds himself in a contradiction between family and his quest for Dr Bendre. Ganesh murthy's obsession with Dr Bendre drives his family to frustration so much so that his wife destroys his mammoth work on Dr Bendre.  

On the other hand Ganesh murthy's son gets hospitalized and dies while Ganesh murthy will be nursing his pains of losing his years of hard work. The soul tells him that its impossible for Ganesh murthy to produce another such work again.  

"To make the impossible possible was "Gangaavtarana"". Another philosophical dialogue builds up between the soul and Ganesh murthy on the latter's Gangaavatarana
At the time of Bhageertaha, one Bhageeratha and one gange (ಗಂಗೆ)  was enough to cleanse the world. But now world has become so dirty with anger,hatred, corruption, pollution, mis-trust, selfishness and bad politics that we need numerous bhageerathas and many Ganges to cleanse the world. 

The play ends with Ganesh Murthy's renewed determination and his next journey away from domestic chores and relationships in quest for Dr Bendre's literary spirit followed by the lovely song of Dr Bendre "ಇಳಿದು ಬಾ ತಾಯೇ" (Come down oh the sacred mother, come down and bless us....... )

[Listen to a small audio piece on the life of Dr Bendre here]

No comments:

Post a Comment