Mythological Twist: Gowri Ramnarayan's play on personal duties and choices
Many of us are familiar with the tales of Mahabharata. The famous epic has been made into movies and daily soap operas for the longest time. Reinterpreting an episode from the series, Chennai-based Gowri Ramnarayan presents When Things Fall Apart, a tale of lost souls from the Mahabharata. The story focuses on three characters — Dronacharya or Drona, Ashwathama and Kripi. The cast comprises V Balakrishnan (Drona), Vinodhini Vaidyanathan (Kripi), and Akhila Ram-narayan (Ashwathama).
What differentiates this play from the regular episodes of Mahabharata, Gowri explains, is that “The play is divided into four scenes, and we all know about Drona, that he was the great mentor. However, my play questions his actions and thoughts. Why does he take the side of Duryodhana? Apart from that, Ashwathama, his son, who was also fond of the Pandavas, winds up on Duryodhana’s side. There is something unclear about the father-son duo and also, there is nothing much mentioned about his wife, Kripi. There is just a routine reference or two about her. This gave me an opportunity to create a new character.”
About how the play unfolds, she says, “This is an ordinary family, living in a time when the cosmos is crumbling around them. Kurukshetra is around the bend, and the play explains how they dealt with the tremendous disasters and all the terrible acts that were happening, which they were also a part of. It also asks questions if their actions were right or wrong.”
Gowri insists that the tale from the Mahabharata, about Drona and Ashwathama, remains eminently relatable. “When I was writing the play, I felt that the problems and the dilemma they face is very relevant today. Whose side do you choose? What is my duty? What should I do? These questions are still unanswered,” she concludes.
At Rasika Ranjani Sabha, 6.30 pm. February 3.