Direction : Makarand Deshpande
Writer : Makarand Deshpande
Cast : Makarand Deshpande


Deepa Gahlot


The love of Radha and Krishna is considered divine; they were separated for most of their life, she was married to another while he went off on his pre-ordained path to glory. In return for a lifetime of yearning, she was blessed with having her name joined with him forever, and when devotees utter their names together, hers precedes his.

The beauty of their love story was best expressed in Dharmvir Bharti's classic Kanupriya, staged innumerable times by various groups all over the country. Makrand Deshpande goes over the same ground-Radha's last meeting with Krishna-but in his own abstract style.

It is a solo performance, punctuated by soulful music played live by sitar maestro Niladri Kumar, who has collaborated for the second time with Deshpande, the first being his production of Patni. Deshpande plays the sutradhar who welcomes an elderly and hesitant Radha to Dwarka to meet Krishna, but there are distractions on the way.

Deshpande is a striking presence on stage with his wild grey mane and white costume, and he knows how to keep his audience engrossed; however, Krishna seems underwritten, as though he had an idea, but did not have time to flesh it out. So the performance, with his interactions with a clearly admiring audience, has an ad-libbed quality to it. Their laughter is interspersed with his part-mythological, part spiritual ramblings, that somehow come together beautifully at the end, the effect heightened by the music and light effects (Amogh Phadke).

There is a familiarity to the legend thanks to television mythologicals and that mysterious osmosis by which every Indian (particularly Hindu) child absorbs tales of the Gods, through a mix of grandma's bedtime stories, festival celebrations and maybe Amar Chitra Katha comics. In his past works inspired by the epics Deshpande had a way of going deeper into existing material, bringing out unknown nuggets and wrapping it all in his lyrical prose. His latest work lags behind somewhat, and maybe it needs to go back to the drawing board, so to speak, to turn Krishna into a truly satisfying theatre experience like his recent Ram was. The potential of the Radha-Krishna story being retold to a new audience by an imaginative playwright-director and superlative stage performer like Deshpande should not be squandered.

(Deepa Gahlot is a journalist, columnist, author and curator. Some of her writings are on
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