Bengaluru sees the world premiere of Girish Karnad’s last play, Crossing To Talikota
Theatre personality Arjun Sajnani received a script from Girish Karnad before his passing, with a personal inscription. “He said this was to be an important production. I wondered how it would be staged convincingly, it seemed so expansive and grand,” Arjun shares, adding, “It was an unexpectedly huge challenge that he warned me about. But it was made larger by the unfortunate loss of Girish himself, making this a milestone production.” This week, Arjun stages Karnad’s last ever play, Crossing To Talikota, which makes its world premiere in Bengaluru.
The play chronicles the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire and decimation of its capital, Hampi, in 1565. It follows the ruler, Aliya Rama Raya, and his Battle of Talikota with neighbouring sultans. “The play tackles many topics quite subtly, such as political machinations, emotional bonds, betrayal and, more importantly, the question of caste. There is so much common ground between the opposing empires and their fight is political rather than motivated by religion. We can easily draw parallels in this narrative to current times,” Arjun explains.
The cast includes Ashok Mandanna in the lead, along with Veena Sajnani, Tuffy Tarapor-ewalla and Shashank Purusho-tham. While being a part of the play due to its rich story is an honour, it has now turned into a tribute to the playwright. Ashok says, “This is Karnad’s last play and the responsibility of bringing it to life rests on our shoulders.” Shashank grew up watching Karnad’s films and plays, so to be part of the production is a privilege, he says. “It’s disheartening that he will not be around to watch his work come to life but the entire team is leaving no stone unturned in making this production a memorable tribute to the master,” he adds.
Arjun says that while it is not his first time working on a Karnad script, this was the first time the playwright had taken such an active interest in the production. “I so, so wish he were here to see it. I miss a respected and sharp intellect and a personal friend,” the director signs off.
Rs. 350 upwards. October 2 - 6, 7.30 pm. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleshwaram