It all sounds very familiar: a shape-shifting snake falls in love with a lonely young bride,and what follows is the story of love,lust,passion and drama. The play Nagamandala,originally written by Girish Karnad in the 80s,is the tale of young bride Rani and her unfulfilled marriage. In an attempt to seduce her cheating husband,Rani decides to drug him with a love root,mixed in his food,which then accidentally is spilled on the nearby ant-hill and Naga,the King Cobra,drinks it.
The play is a directors delight as it possesses the challenge of deciphering a mythical folklore into a lucid and entertaining piece. Karnad has been a critic of the rise of religious fundamentalism and I hope through presentation of his legendary creation,I havent deviated myself from his way of conveying a social message, says director Abhinash Sarma.
With a strong star cast including famous Assamese actress Zerifa Wahid and theatre actor Ratul Das in leading roles,the play has been nominated for Best Direction,Best Choreography,Best Supporting Actress,Best Lighting,Costumes and Sounds at the ongoing Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2012.
All I have done is to change the play from its original Kannada version to Assamese. Ive tried to retain the folklore and the rustic flavour, says Sarma. As the play is surreal and fantasy-based,it not only pushes the viewers imagination,but also puts more responsibility on us to execute it flawlessly, he adds.
The plot thickens as Rani gets pregnant and is asked to prove her fidelity by putting her hand in the snake burrow and taking a vow that she has not committed adultery. It was a popular belief at that time that if a person holding the snake in his/her hand lies,he or she will be instantly killed by the snake god. Will the snake-lover bite Rani?
Nagamandala will be staged at Sri Ram Centre on March 5,5 pm