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How To Stage Abhijnanashakuntalam?
by Bijay Kant Dubey Bookmark and Share

How Was Our Ancient Theatre?

How should it be the trailer of Shakuntalam written by Kalidasa and directed by whom? Shakuntala running as a teenage girl child after the deer, growing into, standing near the ashrama, the daughter of the rishi and the apasara, but left and fostered by another. How the pictures imagistic of, so scenic and landscapic of the forest, the hermitage, the rishi and the rishi-daughter? How the lilacs of love blooming? Whose love where is it blooming? Whose love cherished or uncherished nurtured and nourished so far? Is it of Kalidasa or something different? How the heroine looking like a sadhvi or some sadhvi daughter? How the image of the upsaras hanging over? How the Heavenly Dream shaded, and the script dramatized under the cast of such an imagery of hope and optimism, dream and romance balancing the amorous and the celestial? And our story one of kama-kraudha-ahamkara, vasana-tripti-sambhoga-moksha, dharma-adharma-karma-nyaya.

How do we spoil innocence? How do we stain it here love? How does infatuation get spoilt in the end with our selfishness and greed? At that time does love remain pure and chaste? Shakuntala though may be a remnant of the apsara stuff telling of celestial beauty, Yogini, Maya, Kamini, Apurva Sundari representing niscchal prem, but our manna replete with dormant vasana lies in waiting as for to prey upon. A rishi’s daughter too has to go however innocent be she reminiscent of pastoral or classical love. Love is love. Can it be chaste? Can it be so innocent? Was Dushyanta true to his love? Was it the curse which had the origin of its own? Or, was Shakuntala like Karna? We do not know to do justice to it, to the India of myths, mysteries and spirituality, culture and superstition as well, thought and tradition but contradicted by sub-cultures. If it is correct from the Aryan point of view, it may not be from the aboriginal point of view. Another thing is this, does love know any barriers as Tennyson depicts it in The Beggar Maid poem? A rishi wants to be a Brhamrishi, a Devarishi like Dadhichi, but there is also something in Surpanakha, Sabri, Hidimbi and their tales we know it not. Putana, who is she? Why has she been described in such a light? Such a thing is but tribal too which one may find in Mexico-related works of Lawrence. Was the Naga culture not so? But the aboriginal culture of the Nagas gets it purged when we see the Naga sadhus leaving it behind in hathyoga.

How was our theatre company, folk and classical? How had it been the perception of ours? How did we take to drama and its enactment? How the musicians giving music from behind? How the dramatic personae? Everything is but in the dark as we know nothing about. How the roles assigned to the characters acting as females and the audience watching? Since when have we been enacting Ramlila and Krishnalila? Since when have we been the Ramayana and the Mahabharata?

Suppose one tries to enact Abhijnanashakuntalam, how will one do it? The scriptwriter will read the text and will try to write or abridge it in his own words. It will be completely a teamwork. Another will take care of costume and dresses. The make-up man will try to act as a dresser. How had it been our costumes? How had it been our make-up stuffs? What should one wear? What is the dress prescription? How will it be the scenery focused on and under the cover-up overshadowing of it, the actors and actresses will act.

Natya Sahstras framed rules for drama performance. Did Kalidasa keeping in view the rules and norms? Does it conform to? Did the things happen in the mind of Kalidasa internally? But what it is a virtue or drawback of Indian drama is that it tends to be classical where the heavenly part mesmerizes with contradicting the concept of immortality and divinity and we reposing in the Death Conquering Mantra, but say you, what is it immortal? One who has born will die it one day, this is the truth which we cannot contradict, but this is what Buddha contradicts.

How was it our classical Shakuntala? How the speech she used in? Did she converse with in Sanskrit? Or, the side heroines in Prakrit? How had it been the companies enacting the dramas? But was our heroine a male or a female?

But the drama fell silent after the arrival of the medieval age when the things were dismantled and dislodged as they were not the admirers of fine arts. We do not know if those were in the courts of the kings or by some pleasure-giving fora.

But the things took a turn when the British came to India, and they ever tried to research the ancient things going though the inscriptions.

How amorous and royal is the story of love and flirtation? King Dushyanta falling in love with Shakuntala, accepting her as his beloved wife, but after he departs forgets it that he had wed another while he went hunting in the forest. To love and to forget is but royal fallacy, a dosha of human character as the king too is a human being, not a representative of God and we take it for upholding dhamma, an upkeeper of justice.

How can it be that a husband will forget his wife? What sort of husband is he? Is he a man so forgetful? The other reason is this that a king had not a wife, but so many wives.

Did ever Kalidasa see the enactment of Abhijnanashakuntalam? How were his female heroines? If it was, were there male actors acting as the females like Shakespearean characters? In Shakespeare’s time, males enacted as the female characters. Did they get recognition in their time? We just talk about them, not about the characters enacting, staging the drama.

Without Indian dress-style, can it be performed? Perhaps no is the answer. How were upsaras imagined and dreamt about? How did the images of celestial damsels come upon the mind’s plane? How were the clothing and dressing styles? What did the rishis wear it then?

But what baffles us is holistic thinking and living and that we had been so much religious and we went after the immortal state. But say you, what is it holy? And who is holy?

How did the king feel it about Shakuntala? How could a king? Apart from the rage and curse of a sage, what is it in it? Is the thought of heaven all? What can we do with the heavenly element too? Nothing can change this life of ours and we have to live it here. Where to go barring it? Much of our part is mythical and mystical and we know it not as we like to side with the Divine.

How did Dushyanta come to recognize Shakuntala? Did he through the ring found? Or, did he hearing about Bharat’s playing with the lion? Or, the rishi would have taken to him, what is the truth? Sometimes we think it about how the sadhus and rishis could have grappled with the tigers and lions roaming the wilds of the Himalayan tracts and they lost in sadhna bearing it all. How would it have been the scenario?

Under the cover of the classical, the amorous lies it hidden as the Raslila is so replete with Premlila, the Divine Premlila. Can love be divine and devotional? Can one banish the amorous from it? Was Mira not doubted in Rajasthan?

A sadhu’s daughter, a hermit’s foster daughter, she will definitely look chaste and innocent, virtuous and religious, pure and undefiled, Brahminical and ashramite. She is but an Aryan character. Had she been a tribal or woodlander, the scenes would have been different. She would have been a pastoral character with lambs into her lap. She would not have waited for him for so long though a woman generally waits. She would have otherwise and Dushyanta would not have remembered her. Had Shakuntala been indigenous, things would have taken a drastic turn.

The story of Shakuntala and Dushyanta is like that of the ring-wearing of the marriage ceremony. The marriage ring which he gives is the memory which they carry on to keep it as a relic as well as to commemorate it.

A Brahmin dramatist has but Brahminism and hermitage to carry it forward, but how chaste are we from our within? Can the amorous be banished? Can the physical be? Sometimes in search of the holy, we hide in the ground realities.

Is the curse the indicator of all?  The curse of Dushyanta, how to discuss it? Who curses whom and for what? The hermitage is it the stage of the theatre? The other thing, how to picture the exotic flora and fauna? How would it have been the teddy bears? Stuffed lion cubs?

Shakuntala the daughter of an apsara and a brahmarishi, how the romance of Kalidas, how the imagination of the Indian mind?

Is Shakuntala not a Brahmin? Had she been, she would have wed a Brahmin, but here she is betrothed to a king. But here Mira contradicts Brahminism with her devotion and love. Had Shakuntala been the daughter of Kanva, how the story would have turned?

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19-Feb-2022
More by :  Bijay Kant Dubey
 
Top | Culture
 
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