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Krishna's role in Mahabharata comes alive in Janmashtami dance-drama

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Cultural impresario Shobha Deepak Singh sure finds the story of Krishna's mischievous childhood and adolescence endearing, but it is his role in the "Mahabharata" that she feels needs to be revisited, more so in today's time.

"The epic and its message remain relevant even 3,000 years after it was written," she told PTI.

Singh, who has been directing dance dramas based on Hindu mythological epics, is back with the 43rd edition of "Krishna" on the occasion of Janmashtami.

The production by the Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, which chronicles the Hindu deity's life from his birth to his emancipation, is being staged at the Kamani auditorium here.

"To me war is not something that happened many years ago... it's happening today as well. Violence is deeply embedded in the plot, but the solutions to the carnage are offered on the same battlefield.

"The Kurukshetra war continues through epochs to our very own times and the message of victory and redemption is more pertinent today than ever before," the 75-year-old Padma Shri awardee said.

"Krishna", which debuted over 40 years back, started off with showcasing only one episode -- "Maha Raas" or "Raas-leela" from Krishna's life, but Singh has been adding more stories over the years, and after several edits through many editions, the drama now plays out in about 24 episodes.

The current version opens with Krishna's birth in prison and goes on to his early years of stealing butter, to falling in love with Radha, and also emerging as the saviour of his village Gokul as he defeats demon like Kalia -- the thousand-hooded serpent.

The second half shows Krishna as a diplomat, a man of action, and a mentor to Arjuna in the battlefield.

The revered episode of Krishna lifting up the Govardhan mountain on his little finger to shelter his villagers from a deluge, is also part of the show.

"Over the years I have made several changes. Like the dice game scene, it used to be too long and not so interesting, now it gets over quickly. Till two days back, we had the Sudama episode, but now we have removed it," Singh said.

The dance forms used in the narrative range from folk dances to martial art forms like Mayurbhanj Chhau (Odisha) and Kalaripayattu (Kerala).

The dialogues in the drama have been written by Manohar Singh and Hema Sahai. Classical singers like Shanti Sharma and Shubha Mudgal have lent their voices for its music.

Raj Kumar Sharma, who has been essaying the lead role of Krishna in the production for over a decade now, said his favourite part was enacting the episode of "Gandhari's Curse", where the mother of the Kauravas damned the God that he would die a mortal death.

"It is the entire essence of Mahabharata. I have studied so much for the expressions, body gestures, and emotions for that scene.

"It also sends out a message that no matter who you are, a man or a god, your end is inevitable," Sharma said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 23 2019. 16:20 IST