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Bhopal: Silent play on Ashoka draws applause


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Bhopal: It was a seriously good play, which gripped the audience from the very beginning. Who would have thought that something that we think of so intrinsically complex as the character of emperor Ashoka could be portrayed so easily. And yet this play staged by students of Madhya Pradesh School of Drama felt exactly like that. The play, Samrat Ashoka, directed by Partho Bandyopadhyay and staged at Bharat Bhavan on Tuesday as part of the seven-day drama festival Vidrohi, had only two dialogues. The play was staged for the first time in Aangik Abhinay.

The silent play spoke aloud through music, light and stage settings that actually told the agony and ecstasy of the emperor who was egoistic, tyrannical, selfish and cruel. Yet, he was Ashoka, the Great. Since everything hinged on the character of the emperor and particularly on how he transformed himself from Chanda Ashoka to Dhamma Ashoka, it required maturity to play that role. Radha Krishna, though a green horn on the stage, left a permanent imprint on the audience.

Similarly, Meghna Panchal as Devi, Saurabh Singh Parihar as Radha Gupt and Ankit Das as ‘Ashok ka Antarman’ also stood out. The scene that depicted the birth of Ashoka was a fine blend of light, music and symbols. The director’s apt use of costumes created the atmosphere of Mauryan era. It was a great moment on the stage when Ashoka fought his brothers and killed all of them to ascend the throne of Magadha. Besides, the Kalinga war scene and that of Ashoka’s post-battle remorse received warm applause from the audience.

The play, which had no dialogues, may not have sparkled had it not been provided with apt light and music. The credit goes to Anup Joshi and Shailendra Mandodo for this. The lights used to show the blood-soaked sword of the emperor, the Buddhist monk and the last scene when Ashoka surrenders to Buddhism were handled with finesse. Certain scenes portraying human relationship in ancient Indian society were brave and imaginative.

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