Kolkata-based theatre group Natadha stages Mahabharata 2

Mahabharata 2 explores the mental dilemma of characters, before the epic war

author_img Vinita Tiwari Published :  26th April 2019 12:00 AM   |   Published :   |  26th April 2019 12:00 AM

Arna Mukhopadhyay's Mahabharata 2 is not a traditionalist interpretation of the age-old text

NATADHA, one of the oldest theatre groups in Kolkata, has come up with its second magnum opus, in the form of Mahabharata 2, this April. Directed by Arna Mukhopadhyay, the play is largely based on the text written by Shib Mukhopadhyay, which has been rewritten by the director, to suit a contemporary context.

The play depicts the age-old epic in the Udyog Parva (the fifth book of the Mahabharata) where the Pandavas return from exile, ready to claim their share of the kingdom from the clutches of the Kauravas. But the attempt does not meet with success, and eventually leads to the epic war.

Mahabharata 2 centers around Udyog Parva, the period just before the war

“This is the second time that Natadha is staging Mahabharata. We don’t deal with the war itself, but with the time just before that— when war is imminent, and chaos and confusion is playing on everybody’s mind,” explains Arna Mukhopadhyay, the director.

Incidentally, Mukhopadhyay will also be acting in the play, as the character of Duryodhana —who was born to a blind king, and a queen who’s said to have adopted a willful sense of blindness, in deference to her husband.

The character of Duryodhana too adopts an attitude of willful malice — quite like blindness — in his refusal to part with the kingdom, and to forcibly gag any voice of dissent that dissuades him from waging the war, even if it’s from Shakuni, his own uncle.

Actress Sohini Sarkar in a scene from the play

Here, one is forced to think about the validity of Duryodhana’s argument, when he points out the flaws in the apparent ‘godly’ characters of the Pandavas. “For me, the play seemed quite relevant in the current context. People are either silenced into action, or they are confused about their own stance,” explains the director.

“None of the characters in my play are larger-than-life or superheroes. Instead, there is a deliberate attempt to show them as normal human beings with flaws. For example, Uttora (played by Upabela Pal) and Abhimanyu (played by Rishav Basu) — both of whom are misfits in this scenario — question the validity of violence itself. It’s very similar to those who are battling it out in Kashmir,” reveals the director.

Director Arna Mukhopadhyay

The dialogues are colloquial and the costumes are contemporary. The play refrains from becoming a ‘traditionalist’ interpretation of the text and veers towards an experimental take on the age-old epic.

Lights have been coordinated by Jayanta Ghosh, music has been arranged by Bandan Misra along with Arna, Bimal Maiti has designed the costumes, and the sets have been created by Milan Kundu. Notably, Tollywood actor Sohini Sarkar will essay the role of Draupadi, who will be shown as a strong, masculine character.

At The Academy of Fine Arts on April 28, 1.45 pm & 5.45 pm.

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