Staging a play is an act of resourcefulness. The hide-and-seek of light and shadow gives the actors on-stage a depth of character that spoken words can hardly manage to. Bhawariya – The T Positives, a Majuli based theatre organization, held two performances of their new play Obyokto at the Baa Studio Theatre, Panjabari, Guwahati on 22nd October, 2021. In the prologue to the play, famed film director and theatre personality Anupam Kaushik Borah, talks about the prevalent misleading narrative that war is a necessary evil to maintain peace. He also informs the audience that Karna, the peace loving mythological warrior, is going to be the protagonist of the play.
The character of Karna in the Mahabharata is a paradox – a bundle of contradictions. He is humble yet ambitious and blessed yet unfortunate. His life embodies the classic scenario of bad thoughts and bad company ruining a good individual. It serves as a warning for lesser mortals to not to go down the same path as Karna did. Although he was a great warrior and orator, his greatness got overshadowed by his weak mental personality. Writer and director of the play Kaushik Nath takes a leaf out of Karna’s life and tries to understand his thought process that leads him to his ultimate doom. The play showcases Karna in a stage of his life when bitterness, moral dilemma and melancholic thoughts have already consumed his being. Karna’s conversation with his birth mother Kunti forms the crux of the play. Together they talk about the futility of war and Kunti in particular stresses upon the fact that war is man-made.
In a play the background mise-en-scène can either make or break a narrative. Obyokto can boast of an impressive background design composed of six actors representing kaam (lust), krodh (anger), lobh (greed), muh (desire), irxaa (jealousy), ahangkar (pride). In a way, they mirror Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth who gives an insight into the characters’ minds. They also represent the myriad moods of Karna.
The director Kaushik Nath grew up in Majuli – a place that is surrounded by green nature and echoes of mythology. So, naturally in his play too mythology plays a central role as Karna takes the centre stage to reveal his state of mind to the audiences.
Written by: David Lagachu.
An Old Soul, Academician and Freelance Writer.