[21st January 2007 at 3.30 pm]
“Jugaari Cross”, a highly acclaimed novel written by K P Poornachandra Tejaswi has been adapted to stage by Samudaya Group and is directed by Nataraj Honnavalli. Since I haven’t read the novel, so can’t say much about the same but after having seen the play, I feel it must be a great novel with lots of political overtones putting forward the present status of society where there is always one person controlling the other who is depicted as “boss”.
The whole set of events take place in a span of twenty four hours at a place called Devapura where there is a crossing of four roads named “Jugaari Cross”. Once we start getting into the play we get a feeling that the characters, the turn of events, situations etc., are not at all linked to each other and raises a question in our mind that there is a big “boss” who is controlling all these. What is that person doing and why is he doing that is what we start thinking about. But lateron in the play we get to know how the events and characters are linked to each other. What starts off as a question in our mind culminates in a quest for some ancient hidden truths which get answered at the end of the play.
Jugaari Cross as mentioned is a place where people from different walks of life commute with different goals/aims – travelers, cardamom traders, farmers etc. At the cross, it is shown that the forester there is corrupt and extorts money from innocent farmers and traders who pass by that place. The cross is also shown to be a place where lots of underworld activities like smuggling of opium, ganja etc., take place. The main story is told from the point of view of a couple Suresh and Gowri who set out to sell their cardamom at a nearby town called Devapura. Suresh an ex-communist is shown to be a person who is influenced a lot by his guru Ganguli whereas Gowri is a simple girl who wants to be rich by selling off the cardamom at the highest price possible. On their way, in the bus two people from the underworld place a box in their sack of cardamom to protect it from the eyes of police. What is inside the box becomes the centre of attraction from this point.
At Devapura they get to know that the weight of the sack is increased by 2.5 kgs and are surprised at this. By this time the people who had placed the box in their sack get to know that it is missing and go in search of the couple. Huchche Gowda, a cardamom merchant at Devapura puts the cardamom they bring for auction and two mysterious people bid at a very high price and pay them through cheque. Since the couple require cash, they go to a commission agent Sethu, who pays them cash after checking out the cheque they bring in and also warns them to be careful. He reveals to them that the person who has signed the cheque is related to the underworld and two people previously have vanished after receiving similar cheques from him. He also tells them about a precious “red stone” which is got near Doni Hole near Devapura. After getting to know about this, the couple get more curious about why they were paid so much for the cardamom and also want to know if the “red stone” story is a reality. The rest of the story is their saga in getting to know the truth behind these and how the different characters they encountered during the day take them towards the truth.
Being a metaphorical story, it is quite interesting to know where the couple head towards and the revelations they face make us think of our present society where there is a “boss” above everyone of us to control us and makes us dance to his tunes. A lot of thought is required to get into the real idea behind the story which might be fully clear if we read the novel.
Coming to the play, it is a great work by Samudaya to bring such a complex novel (can guess it by the plot!!) on to the stage. Their effort is highly commendable. Good props and sets by Keshava Murthy are an added advantage to give the feel of the Jugaari Cross. Good lighting by Muddanna Rattihalli and Shashidhar Bhaarighaat to give the special effects of a railway tunnel and the smoke to give the misty feeling make the play a treat to watch. The title song which the actors themselves sing on the stage is good to hear and catchy. The play gets a good feeling by the good music of Gajanana T Naik. (Heard that the music for the play was composed in just a day!!!) Good makeup and costumes add to the feel of the play. Some comic moments in between provide a good relief for the viewers who get too involved to know what will happen next in the two hour long play!
It is a great work by the director Nataraja Honnavalli to take up the challenge of adapting the novel to stage. He gets the best out of every performer in the play.
What I remember the most from the play are some characters like Gowri, Shastri, Ganguli, Suresh and Sethu played with good perfection. Also the title song in chorus from the troupe is captivating and hummable.
With each enact, the plays improve and move towards perfection. Also not being the right person to judge the act and actors, what I can say is it’s a good effort by “Samudaaya” and I appreciate their efforts and wish them all the best for their future presentations of ‘Jugaari Cross’ and forthcoming ‘Pampa Bharatha’.
[I wish to mention three artists who made good impression in their act. Padma Shivamogga who played Gowri, Vishwa Rao who played Ganguli (also Huchche Gowda) and Sriharsha Nadahally who played Shastri. (Vishwa being my colleague and Harsha my new acquaintance)]