Bhoomika Theatre Group brings to the stage a drama based on a story by Rabindranath Tagore

The presentation integrates recorded music, vocals, and gibberish, prioritising inclusivity across diverse audiences and transcending language barriers
Artistes during the rehearsals
Artistes during the rehearsals

A luminary in Bengali literature, Rabindranath Tagore, left an enduring impact on the literary world. His profound contributions explore themes like nature, spirituality, nationalism, and social issues. Tagore was also a visionary educator and social critic, rejecting mechanical learning in favour of a curriculum emphasising creativity, imagination, and moral awareness. One of his stories, The Parrot’s Training, reflects his concerns about education, which continue to remain relevant even in the contemporary world. Citybased Bhoomika Theatre Group aims to bring this timeless narrative to life on stage through the play — Vihanga Prahasanam (Chilaka Chaduvu).

As far as the storyline goes, it all starts with a king, who feels inspired to educate a parrot. He then assigns the task to his nephews. Despite the bird’s natural abilities like flying and singing, the focus turns towards teaching him shastras and good manners. The royal nephews, along with pundits, create an elaborate infrastructure and pile of copied textbooks for the parrot’s education. In their zealous efforts, the bird is neglected and eventually dies. The story serves as a poignant commentary on the pitfalls of a rigid and mechanical education system that shuns a holistic approach towards the development of an individual.

The director of the play, Udaya Bhanu Garikipati, says, “The story highlights the irony of the situation where the well-intentioned efforts to educate the parrot leads to its neglect and eventual demise. This serves as a metaphor for the potential harm caused by an education system that prioritises infrastructure, textbooks, rote memorisation, ranks and external forms of learning over a genuine understanding of the individual needs and capabilities of the learner.” Udaya aims to effectively visualise and interpret Tagore’s story, steering clear of traditional dialogues. The presentation integrates recorded music, vocals, and gibberish, prioritising inclusivity across diverse audiences and transcending language barriers. He explains, “Indeed, gibberish might be incomprehensible on its own. Therefore, we have paired it with the vocals by artistes, recorded music, and engaging body gestures. Essentially, our aim is for the audience to watch the play, and through these elements, intuitively grasp the unfolding narrative without the need for explicit language.” He laments the ongoing necessity to address concerns through the play. Despite its age, he stresses that the relevance of the play has only increased over time, resonating more with contemporary issues than when it was initially written. He believes that theatre, as an art form, serves to spotlight and present societal issues. This platform facilitates discussions, critical thinking, and debates, leading to collaborative efforts in finding solutions and mitigating problems.

Executive Director of the play, Osman Ghani has facilitated training of the artistes in certain aspects of Kalaripayattu, an ancient martial art from Kerala. This training aims to enhance the artistes’ body awareness, ensuring that their gestures effectively communicate with the audience during the play.

Kalyan Yellamraju, who is acting in the play, expresses, “In my role, I portray multiple characters, including the egoistic and foolish king in the story. The challenge is amplified as there are no traditional dialogues; it’s all conveyed through gibberish.” He acknowledged that the play demanded physical fitness from the artistes, and the additional training workshop related to Kalaripayattu proved immensely beneficial for him.

Another artiste, Bhavana Reddy, shares, “In one of my diverse roles, I portray a dance teacher — an ironic twist as I attempt to teach dance to a parrot. Throughout rehearsals, I realised that this play demands our complete presence. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, all our senses need to be fully engaged in the presentation. In contrast to other performances where it’s often limited to delivering dialogues, here every aspect required our attention.” She asserted that constant alertness was essential, making it a unique and immersive experience. The play appears to be a captivating endeavour to contemporise Tagore’s story and make it relevant to modern audiences.

Free Entry. January 13. 7 pm.

Our Sacred Space, At Chaurah Auditorium, Secunderabad.

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