Review

MAHARATHI (SHIVAM SHARMA)

MAHARATHI (SHIVAM SHARMA) Play Review


Rachana Choksi


Writer : Vibhanshu Vaibhav
Direction : Shivam Sharma
Cast : Apoorv Sharma, Naitik Tated, Ramesh Paliwal, Harsh Sharma, Laksh Parihar, Vinay Yadav, Sonal Wala, Nirali Kalani, Sakshi Sharma, Suhani Yadav, Padam Singh, Ravesh Dogra and Ravi


 MAHARATHI (SHIVAM SHARMA) Review


We have witnessed the great Indian epic Mahabharata (be its different episodes or different chapters or rather vigorous powerful staunch characters that has served as a benchmark for society) on several platforms -big screen, small screen, theatre, street plays, OTT, books, novels and what not. But despite that the reverence and urge to witness it all over again, irrespective of the platform, doesn't fade. So was the case with the new Hindi-Sanskrit play MAHARATHI, based on the book with the same name written by prominent writer, director, theatre worker, film professional, Vibhanshu Vaibhav. Multiple artistes (some topnotch Bollywood actors as well), involving diverse theatre groups have performed the same play at different junctures and the play has been lapped up the audiences.

While the great Indian epic Mahabharta is an ocean with regards to its content, its characterisation, its teachings, morals, etc., MAHARATHI showcases the traumas in the life of Mahayodha, Daanveer, Kunti-putra Karna, who time and again faces identity crisis in his entire life (blame it on his upbringing in a low-caste family). He is constantly in anguish, misery and pain due to the caste system, disparity that has been predominant in society since ages. And because of which Karna is repetitively bogged down over his rights despite being a brave warrior.


The play embarks with that chapter of Mahabharta where Karan is denied proving his mettle as a great warrior and archer, better than or at par with Arjun (one of the Pandavas), by Dronacharya, who constantly argues about how low caste aspirants cannot seek to step in the shoes of high caste people. The heated argument between Dronacharya and Duryodhana (one of the Kauravas) becomes the highlight, what with Duryodhana defying caste disparity that deprives the deserving of proving his/her talent. Similarly, at every juncture, the play captures Karna's trauma, as one who is socially oppressed, which also throws a light on the contemporary caste system of our society. The play puts forth Karna's pitiful situation through punching dialogues and his unanswered questions for which he is seeking answers.

Although the play tackles Karan's character as we know him from Mahabharat, but it adds nothing new to what we already know of him. It presents the same episodes of his life that we have witnessed in the epic and we all know what he went through. It is like we are revisiting the drama from screens to stage. The play could have connected it with contemporary times by adding some dialogues that are relevant to present-day or else adapted Karan's character as per current generation giving it a refreshing change.

Having said that the Hindi-Sanskrit play MAHARATHI holds you right from the scene one, all the credit for it goes to its riveting dialogues, topnotch flawless performances, the poignant scenes between Kunti and her son, or Krishna and Karan or Karan and his wife Vrushali. But amongst all what stands out are the rational confrontations, the logical arguments (between Krishna and Karan, Kunti and Karan, Duryodhan and Drona, Krishna and Draupadi, Karna and Vrushali) that defy our logic or morality. For instance when Karna says to his mother, "Aap sirf stri hi banke reh gayi, kabhi maa nahi bani", or "Bal bhujaaon mein nahin, man mein hota hai", or else when Karan says to Krishna "Main siddhanton ke saaath chala. Yeh yuddh do vichardharoan ke beech hai. Krishna aap apni vichardhara sthapit karna chhhate ho aur Duryodhana Apni," "Siddhant adig hote hain, vichar badal jaate hain," etc.


The second highlight of the play is when Lord Krishna shows his Virat Roop in Kuru Sabha, all kings including Duryodhana are blinded by terror. The way the consequences of the bloodshed have been explained by his Virat Roop, wherein Duryodhana is made aware of the imminent dangerous outcome is noteworthy. Even the confrontation scene between mother-son duo Kunti and Karan are sympathetic and tear-jerking. The power-packed dialogues and the stirring music are the soul of the play. Despite promoting it as Hindi-Sanskrit play, there are no dialogues in the ancient Indian lingo Sanskrit except for few words here and there. But there are few shlokas at the beginning and end of the play.

Talking about performances, the actor who plays Duryodhana, Ramesh Paliwal, perfectly fits the bill. Even Apurva Sharma, who essays Karan looks apt and has the audience rooting for him. It looks like in this battle of Dharma and Adharma, Karan is only one who couldn't get any justice for himself. The actor who plays Krishna is also apt and does his part well. Nirali as Kunti does her role of mother well. The music team Raj Singh, Rajendra, Harshad and Dheeraj Pandey have done excellent job in the music department. As for the lights work a little improvement was needed. The overall experience was good.

Rachana Choksi has been a Bollywood writer for over 10 years and being a theatre lover she is now penning stories for Mumbai Theatre Guide.


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