Sunday, April 8, 2007

Pampa Bharata @ Rangashankara

Pampa Bharata @ Rangashankara

Samudaya's next offering after 'Jugaari Cross' is based on the famous Kannada poet Pampa's adaptation of Mahabharata famously known as 'Pampa Bharata'. Pampa Bharata is also known as Vikramarjuna Vijaya. Adikavi Pampa in his version of Mahabharata chose to personify his king Arikesari (a Rashtrakuta feudatory and a great friend of Pampa) and centred his work around Arjuna. Arjuna is glorified to a large extent in his work and he is given lots of importance. After the war of Kurukshetra,it is Arjuna who is crowned king and his wife Subhadra who becomes the royal queen (unlike Dharmaraya as depicted in Vyasa's Mahabharata).

The play has been adapted and presented in a different format with Karna the other character walking into the limelight. Why Karna is what comes to everyone's mind. The reasons are explained in the play. It is shown that Pampa actually wanted to show king Arikesari as Karna and not as Arjuna in his work. But since Arikesari's attitude and hunger for power was too much to handle for Pampa, he ends up depicting his friend the king as Karna who is a symbol of sacrifice in the Mahabharata.

In a well executed plot, Karna is shown to be questioning Pampa why he was sidelined in the latter's work though Karna's and Pampa's lives are in parallel. The parallelism is drawn with Karna being treated as an outsider due to he being a Sutaputra. Pampa, a born Brahmin who later is converted to Jainism also faces such an outsider status in the society. Due to this Pampa sympathises with Karna since he too had to face situations similar to the ones Karna had faced.

In his reply to Karna, Pampa explains the reasons for not glorifying him but taking to Arjuna due to his closeness towards Arikesari, the king. He explains him the reason why Karna did not get the chance to win Draupadi even though he lifted the Dhanassu and aimed at the fish correctly. The consipiracy behind this was the political plays of Krishna, who wanted Arjuna to win Draupadi. It is also shown that Draupadi falls for Karna when he aims correctly at the fish. Karna has to undergo lots of humiliation because of his non-Kshatriya status-the main one being the chance to head the army against the Pandavas. Also his oath to his mother Kunti that he would not kill any of his brothers except Arjuna puts him in a fix. Just before the war starts it is shown that even Draupadi comes to Karna and she is shown to be angry at him for not marrying her and also wishes to have him as husband even if Arjuna dies in the war.

Quoting his reasons Pampa says he had to glorify king Arikesari and hence Arjuna in his Vikramarjuna Vijaya and apologises to Karna for neglecting him and not doing justice to his character even though he had sympathy towards Karna. The play ends with king Arikesari also confessing that he had Pampa killed due to the brahmin dominated society where he had to rule against his wishes just for the sake of making it big and to hold on to power.

Great performances and innovative sets were the highlights of the play. The format of the play which starts of in the modern times wherein two research scholars go in search of a shila shaasana said to have been written by Arikesari for Pampa, thus triggering the events towards the great climax is wonderful.

Good direction by Pramod Shiggaon added to the grandeur of the play. My wishes again to Samudaya for giving us this play and bringing out the other side of the epic Mahabharata.

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