A Krishna Spectacle

BY: SHRUTI NAMBIAR

Oct 30, 2010 — PUNE, INDIA (EXPRESS INDIA) — This magnificent Marathi play on the life of Lord Krishna will dazzle you with its larger than life set and imagination.

Raas-leelas are the religious equivalent of socially-conscious street theater. They educate the laity of the holy texts and religious legends through people decked up in make-up and costume bordering on the garish. But this play promises to slay all demons one may harbour about religious plays. Sambhavami yuge yuge will unfold on a set that's six-storey high, measuring 18-24 meters. A total of 250 artistes, that includes 100 dance artistes, will play out the episodic life of Lord Krishna, the much beloved imp and the most admired teacher of moral behaviour and art of war. Stomping about the set will be a real cow, camel, horses and even an elephant! The whole stage will move, revolve and lift to spellbinding effect.

"The entire cast of 250 actually will don the roles of 350 characters. So a lot of multi-tasking will be unleashed, with each person playing two to three roles," laughs Girish Velekar, who will periodically play the roles of Shishupal, Vishnu and Lord Krishna. The story traces Lord Krishna's tale from his birth to his ascent to heaven. There is raas leela, kansa vadh, shishupal vadh, rukmini haran, dwarka nirman and bhagwad geeta all rolled into the narrative. The finale will see a life-size statue of Lord Krishna rising in the backdrop," Velekar elaborates. The presentation will end on a pious note, with the statue being showered with reverential helpings.

The play is being brought to the city by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). The acclaimed presentation has seen 60 replays so far across Maharashtra and Belgaum in Karnataka, and now plans a sojourn up north with appropriate Hindi dubbing included. "I think this has turned out to be my life-time achievement!" laughs director Dilip Desai, who has 30 years of theater experience. "It sure was a challenge to decide placements for 250 actors and keep their poise balanced on the huge set. I have never before worked on such a big scale it's almost 20 times bigger than all my closed theater experiences!" he chuckles.

It's all in the family for the Desais, as his wife Nita Desai will be seen portraying the character overflowing with kindness and love, of that of Krishna's adoptive mother, Yashoda.

The play has been produced by The Vijaydurga Sanskrutik Mandal based in Goa. Though conceptualised in Marathi, the play is looking to adapt itself to even Kannada so as to reach out to a wider range of people in the south of the country. An audience of 7,000 is anticipated to be present to gasp at the grandeur of this cultural event in Pune. The famous ISKCON khichdi prasad will be available in readiness for the viewers to devour.

"Though it's a rehearsed play, the show will have a strong live impact. It is going to be a mighty masterpiece," says actor Madhukar Joshi, who will double up as King Dhridrashtra and Gargmuni.


Sambhavami yuge yuge will play from November 12-18 at Gangadham Chowk, Market Yard, at 6:45pm everyday.


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