Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jaanta Raja Shivaji Park play review

This month, Jaanta Raja was staged at the Shivaji Park grounds, Dadar, Mumbai. The ticket-buying started with a trickle at the Shivaji Mandir theatre and then gathered momentum once the play began, with the current booking stall at the venue seeing long queues. All the shows have been a total sell-out.

About the play: Jaanta Raja is a depiction on stage of the life & times of the great Maratha warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Shivaji was known to be a wise king (that is what Jaanta Raja means). The play's script is written by famous historian Babasaheb Purandare, considered to be the most reputed scholar on Shivaji's life & times. Based on his biographical work on Shivaji, Jaanta Raja depicts various episodes of Shivaji's life. Up to the present show, the play has been staged over 900 times! The last time it was performed in the Shivaji Park grounds was in 2006. The role of Shivaji is played by Pune citizen Pravin Shirole who also works for the Maharaja Shivchhatrapati Pratishthan trust, Pune, the organisation which puts up the play and owns its rights.

2011 Jaanta Raja review Mumbai
Wonder of wonders - the play began right on time! We are so often used to having general programs starting a bit late, it was good to see the emphasis on punctuality. So if you are planning to watch it on the last 2 days (today/tomorrow), make sure you reach the venue early.

The magnificence and grandeur of the presentation of Jaanta Raja as a whole was really awesome. Full compliments to the team behind the sets, lights and music. The revolving stage with quick scene changes, the lighting as appropriate to each scene and the traditional music all made a very good impression throughout. The set was really huge - over 40 feet high and over 100 feet wide - with Goddess Bhavani's sculpture dominating the center. At the very peak was the traditional saffron flag of the Marathas. The costumes & accessories of the over 200 characters also gave authenticity to the era of Shivaji's time.

When the play began, there was a bit of a disappointment - the dialogue was not actually said by the characters at all. It was lip-synching to recorded dialogues. Perhaps this is because the play itself is a narration of the different episodes in the life of Shivaji. Also, loudspeakers had been banned due to the Shivaji Park area being declared a silent zone so the organisers had installed speakers on either side of the seating areas.

It took some time for the audience to get into the spirit of the play; and it did seem from most of the expressions on the faces around that even those who are familiar with the Marathi language found it a bit difficult to follow all the words. The kids who came for the show too were not entirely attentive & seemed to be giving more attention to the popcorn & wafers their parents had to buy to keep them quiet. One youg boy seated behind was intent on tearing up the newspaper he had into as many tiny bits as possible!!! However, everybody came to life whenever the music was part of the scene! There was also plenty of enthusiastic & vigorous clapping whenever Shivaji did something brave, such as his confrontation with Afzal Khan, or when the greatness of Shivaji was spouted.

It was also good to see some traditional dances of Maharashtra being incorporated in the play. One thing which everybody - kids and adults - wanted to see was the elephant & the horses which had always been part of Jaanta Raja. They were not disappointed - it was the highlight of the play with the procession of animals creating plenty of excitement, not to mention the colourful fireworks display in the night sky.

The stage & sets were used well, with the upper storey also being used for certain scenes. As for the cast, the artiste playing Shivaji did a great job but the one playing the role of Jijabai was really outstanding. The most energetic person by far was the sutradhar (narrator). It would have been good if the orgranizers had distributed a leaflet which gave the names of the cast and crew to the audience members as they came in.

Despite the high cost of the tickets, you should see Jaanta Raja at least once - at least for its magnificence & grandeur if nothing else.

No comments:

Post a Comment