Andha Yug, written by Dharamvir Bharati in 1954, has been played often in India and abroad too. The Blind Age was written for the radio by Bharati, but several creative people including Satyadev Dubbey and E. Alkazi and Mohan Maharishi have adapted it for the stage. The latest production of this play is by the Kshitij Group, directed and conceived by Bharati Sharma. Most of the directors of the play have ended at IV Act, so it was a pleasant to see the V Act also enacted by Kshitij. The IV Act ends in a dramatic moment with Gandhari’s curse of Krishna and Krishna’s acceptance of it. The play actually ends with a post-war situation after the victory of the Pandavas and the establishment of the rule in Hasthinapur. The age is still blind and the two old guards comment on it. Yudhisthar is the first person to enter the stage and he is the ruler along with four brothers. He talks about the war and he says “Such an immense war, grim and gruesome, with half truth’s bloodshed and violence has been one, yet defeated an drained do I feel within, that too with agony”. Bheem is the person who is blamed for constantly humiliating Yuyutusu, is the Kaurava brother on the side of the Pandavas because of Krishna.
The two sentries who act the sutradhar comment on the Pandava’s reign. “The rulers changed but situations remained unchanged, in comparison to the previous rulers who were better, and they were blind. At least they used to govern. These rulers are saints, wise and brilliant, they govern how, unaware of the nature of their subject and knowledge and all ethics! What shall we do with them Can we what, grind them Of what, swallow them Or wear them or spread them We need to get grain, clear and definite orders of a vigorous, efficient leader who can perform. Blind instructions labelled, either war or peace. They are unaware of the nature of their subjects.”
Yuyutusu commits suicide. “In the kingom of Yudhishtar, suicide will flourish,” says Vidhur, “while intellectual will retire”. What is this peace you have given us god”. Yudhishtra wants to go to the forest and the hills and he says, “Let me perish-decay on the forsaken peaks of the Himalayas.” Vidhur calls it an act of self-annihilation. The Sentries, come in and compare their state with that of the people in Dwaraka who are awaiting the death Krishna. “We have not born grief”, sentry one says, “no known pain, as we were before, so are we now”, says Sentry two.
The epilogue of the play was also enacted. Krishna lying in the forest, his left foot on his right thigh, and Ashwathama enters, he is looking horrible but not in this production. There is no change in Ashwathama’s outer being, played powerfully by Mohit Tripathi, who as Gandhari’s curse said, watches Krishna die, from an arrow shot by a forest hunter. As the arrow pricks the sole of the foot of Krishna, mucous filled stinking blue blood came flowing out “like the one that often oozes from my wounds”, says Ashwathama. In his feet burst forth similar wounds, “Listen, my enemy, Krishna, at the time of death, did you cast this human brute, Ashwathama at your feet This cleansing that I perceive, is that faith ”
Thus Ashwathama finds new faith. There is a conversation between Ashwathama, Yuyutusu’s spirit and Sanjay and joined by the old mendicant who is an old hunter, by the name of Jara whose arrow killed Krishna. “How in the blind age, will the future of man be saved after this cowardly demise of god”. In the end of the play, Sanjay declares himself inert and maimed and Ashwathama says he is inhuman and Yuyutusu said that “I am a self-annihilator; blind. And the curtain falls. Then the mendicant comes before the curtain and asks the audience, “Is there someone who is not blind, deformed and will save the future of man ” Then the narrator sing the song of hope and gives the path to save the future of mankind, from blind doubt, slavery and defeat.
It was very well enacted and with stellar performances by Bharati as Gandhari and Mohit Tripathi as Ashwathama. The narrators were all very good and the mis en scene was effective. This was a successfully produced play.
The other play was Romeo and Juliet, done by second year students of NSD and directed by Abdul Lateef Khatana, head of the TIE Group in NSD.
The play was marked by fast delivery of dialogue that was clear and lucent. The sets created by set designer Dipankar Paul and executed under the guidance of Amarjit Sharma, were fantastically made. The story of Romeo and Juliet is familiar to all of us, and is supposed to be Shakespeare’s great romantic tragedy where both lovers die in the end. It was a good experience to watch the play done by youngsters and added one more version of the play done by NSD.