“Swayamvaraloka” by Prakash Belawadi for Abhinaya Taranga

I went to see “Swayamvara”, a Kannada play being staged by Prakash Belawadi for Abhinaya Taranga, at H N Kalakshetra, Jayanagar.

H N Kalakshetra Jayanagar Bengaluru 110907

This was the first time I was visiting this hub of Kannada theatre; there was an ambience that was definitely different from that of Ranga Shankara, though both were small, intimate theatre spaces.

The acoustics of the hall are excellent, as, apart from the main background singe,Lalitha Shivaprasadr who is pictured below, no one had microphones.

One of the singers, Swayamvaraloka

The stage was also innovatively set in two parts which were the mirror images of each other, with seating on both sides of them, so that the actors were surrounded by the audience. You can see one part of the stage in these photographs of scenes from the play.

scenes from Swayamvaraloka by Prakash Belawadi

scenes from Swayamvaraloka by Prakash Belawadi

The space between the two parts of the stage also became a prop in itself; in one scene for example, it became the river flowing fhrough the village of Haleyur.

The story was about the marriageable daughter of a Joyisharu (astrologer) who lives in the remote village of Haleyur (It was called Holeyur or town-on-the-river, but after the river was dammed and the Hole disappeared, and the youngsters, including Shastri’s two sons, went off to Bangalore to work, it became Haleyur or old-town.) The astrologer and his orphaned nephew Kittu think about the marriage of Bhame, his daughter. The astrologer’s two sons and their wives, who live in Bangalore, arrive for their annual visit, and bring the gifts of a mobile and a laptop, and introduce the others to the Internet. This becomes a tool to advertise for a groom across the world, and ulitmately, five prospective grooms from five different countries…China, South Africa, Russia, America, and Switzerland….land up for the Swayamvara (groom-choosing by a bride) ceremony. What ultimately happens forms the rest of the story.

The acting by the cast was really excellent, as were the costumes and beautiful use of props and slides projected on the screens behind the audience, to depict various settings. Though Bhame did fumble her lines often, for the most part, the dialogue was completely natural and one had the feeling of watching ordinary people interact.

The laptop was used both in the script and in the production, to great effect, and this is how the interval was announced:

break on the laptop

The music by both male and female groups was very melodious, with the actor assaying the role of the astrologer (Sripathi Manjanabailu) himself singing extremely well, and chanting Sanskrit slokas. The music really added a lot to the appeal of the play.

The length of two and a half hours was indeed a little too long, especially when the newspaper had said the play would begin at 6.15 pm and it actually began closer to 7 pm…but it was still well worth watching, and since the play is running both tomorrow and the day after (12 and 13 September) at H N Kalakshetra, I can heartily recommend it to Kannada theatre-goers. Yes, for the next two days, they will have to choose between this and the Kannada drama festival at Ranga Shankara…!

4 Comments so far

  1. Vaishnavi (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 11:23 am

    Is this a new play? I wonder because the plot has new media like internet etc. Last time I was in town and Karnad’s new play opened. I was really lucky to catch Odakalu Bimba at Ranga Shankara on opening day. It too incorporated new technology heavily.
    Anyway,it is great to see all the theater activity going on in the city.

  2. Chandan (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

    Felt nostalgic. I studied at National college , Jayanagar and it is good to seen familiar photo of H N Kalakshetra. Reminds me of the days when we performed dramas there. Thank you very much for bringing back wonderful memories.

  3. Deepa Mohan (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 4:54 pm

    To Vaishnavi: Yes, I do think it is a new play.

    To Chandan..Glad that I was able to take you down memory lane! I am feeling bad that I have never visited this wonderful venue before…it has such a wonderful atmosphere…very “established” and “traditional”, where Ranga Shankara is more “experimental” and “modern”.

  4. tarlesubba (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 7:19 pm

    i always felt most presentations were dramas anyways.


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