"To be a willing teacher, one must be a constant learner"
-Smt. Lalitha Chandrasekaran,
-Principal, DAV Girls, Gopalapuram
I happened to attend the DAV Girls school (Gopalapuram) Annual Day function. The annual day theme was "Dharma kshetre, Kuru kshethre", which are a series of plays, dance dramas and narration of Mahabaratha from start to end. Mr. A.P. Shah, Honorable Chief Justice of Madras High Court was the chief guest of the function.
As Mr. Venkata Varadhan, the School's counsel told at the end "One can describe the program as marvelous, superb, wonderful etc.. But all of these would be an understatement".
Even the XII Std School captain who delivered the vote of thanks ended her vote of thanks with a superb quote that the Chief Guest acknowledged with a big smile.
I am a critic in general, irrespective of if they are kids or adults. However, I was simply overwhelmed by the performance that I decided to do a blog on it.
The first to be noted was the apt backdrop of the theme of Mahabaratha. We were told that the entire backdrop including the real life trees, chariots, horses, rocks were all designed and created by students of VIII-A.
If indeed it is true, hats off to the kids and teachers who backed them. Thotta tharani can learn something from them.
There were projectors kept in 3-4 locations so that people in the middle and back rows could see the plays unhindered. The projections also helped close-up shots that caught the emotions of actors very well.
The opening was a dance drama depicting the meeting of Santanu and Ganga and birth of Devavrtha.
The choreography of this dance was par excellence. The girl who depicted Ganga was simply superb. She flowed really well.
The way the dance depicted the mating of Santanu and Ganga, giving birth to kids one by one, Ganga dropping them in river ganges were highly professional.
It was a flamboyant, flowing and full-filling performance.
The first dance drama exceeded all expectations and just went through the roof. It set a very high level of expectation for all other plays and dances that followed.
Next to follow was a hindi play depicting how Devavrtha became Bhishma. The key items in this were the backdrop, the sound of river and make-up of the artists involved.
The acting was more mediocre in nature, compared to the dance. But it was well compensated by the make-ups and art sets.
A fluid narration was another hall-mark of the event. The text of narration before each story was well written. The girls who narrated them, did so clearly with expressions that beat many master of ceremonies you would see on many other award ceremonies.
The narration filled up the gaps in the story. Also before every play or dance started, there was a narration explaining it.
The third play was a Hindi play depicting the guru-kul of pandavas and kurus. Under Drona, royal children learn different skills. Arjuna through his sheer concentration was able to pierce the eye of a sparrow (or is it a parrot or some other bird ?) on a tree, while others could not.
The hallmark of this play was the art-work done by the students for the back-drop and the way a moral was brought out at the end.
With concentration and hardwork, one could achieve anything was the moral. The acting of the participants was good, but paled in comparison with the standards set by the dance drama.
Next to come was another play introducing karna. The selection of characters in this play would make Ramanand Sagar shy of his selections.
Karna looked real karna. Duryodhana looked real duryodhana. Arjun looked real Arjun. Dhridrashta and Gandhari also fitted the play very nicely.
The play ended with Karna being crowned Anga Raj, The ceremony was well depicted. Dhridrashta pours water in karna's hands, symbolizing the presentation of kingdom, followed by the presentation of the Royal Crown and Royal Sword.
Next was a dance-drama on how Draupadi happens to incite Duryodhan. The hallmark of this program was the concept itself. Duryodhana visits Indraprastha and marvels at the architecture of the buildings.
He steps on a water pool thinking it is a glass. Earlier he was decieved by a similar optical illusion. He fells down and Draupadi laughs.
This was depicted by a dandiya dance with Draupadi in lead. Duryodhana goes between the dancing girls marvelling the architecture. At a place he fells down and Draupaid laughs.
Duryodhana becomes angry and consults Karna and Shakuni. Shakuni asks Duryodhan to challenge Yudhistra for a game of dice. Inspite of Vidhuras objections with Dhridhrashta and Yudhistra the game of dice happens.
The hallmark of the story was the characters. They were made up so well, spoke so well, and depicted their emotions so well. Dialogues were also very good.
The play made everybody so engrossed that not even whispers went around with the audience.
The game of dice scene was another that is worth a standing ovation. The dialogues of Yudishtra were well written. But this scene belonged to Shakuni.
The way Shakuni ridicules Yudishtra, caught on a close-up camera on LCD projectors was breath-taking.
That was real lovely.
This was followed by a tamil play of Durvasa visiting Pandavas at forest for food and Krishna saving Pandavas from the wrath of Durvasa by eating a morsel of food.
Again, the characterization was good. A bit of humor had been tried with disciples of Durvaasa. But it did not evoke much response.
Overall the play was rich and good, but not at the standard of the dance or the dramas that followed.
Another tamil play on Yudhistra meeting a Yaksha followed. All pandavas die drinking the poisoned water, refusing to listen to the Yaksha. Yudishtra answers the questions and brings to life Nakula, the son of Maadri, as already one son of Kunti (Yudishtra himself) is alive.
Yaksha was superbly dressed.
The question and answer was a musical. Hats off to the writer of the question and answers. The questions were simple, but the answers were much simpler, but very delightful.
The girl who acted as Yudishtra sang them so well.
This was followed by a dance in which Arjuna hiding as an eunuch in the 13th year teaches dance to the princess, without revealing his identity.
Arjuna was real dressed up as an eunuch. That make-up was fabulous.
This was followed by a Sanksrit play in which Krishna tries to mediate between the warring pandavas and Kurus.
This krishna was very apt for the role. She was even better than Nitish Bharadwaj. Krishna was all along smiling mischievously, charming the hearts of viewers.
However, the show stealer in this and subsequent play was the new Duryodhan. What an expression on her face? Since there were several projectors projecting the play on screens, we were given several close-ups.
This Duryodhana would have rivaled even the real Duryodhana. The way this Duryodhana ridiculed Krishna was excellent.
The final scene of Bhagavad Gita was also outstanding.
Arjuna came riding on a real chariot and horses driven by Krishna. The real life cut-outs used here it seems were also made by students.
The Beautiful Krishna and Arjuna spoke well. There was also some kind of dance mixed. Girls with lit lamps surrounded the chariot as Krishna extolled Arjuna to fight.
Every scene needs to be seen to be enjoyed. Words will always be limiting..
When it was over, I looked at my watch and observed 2 hours have flown. I yearned to see it again. Alas it is not from my DVD player. I cannot rewind it and watch it again.
The students, teachers, principal, staff who provided the concepts, all need to be congratulated for such a splendid show. I could see that true to the Principal's words, everybody in the School has been constantly learning, as otherwise such a show is not possible.
This Mahabaratha showed me, why our country is and will be a 'Maha' Barath.