Classic play gets a digital touch
Classic Play Gets a Digital Touch. Balijepalli Laxmikantha Kavi has written ‘Satya Harischandra’ 100 years ago. The story has been a part of our culture and the travails of Chandramati and the idealistic truthful king Harischandra stands as more than folklore in Telugu land.
Gummadi Gopalakrishna’s Padya Natakam ‘Satya Harischandra’ was performed Ravindra Bharathi using broadway technique of embellishing the play with digital imagery
Balijepalli Laxmikantha Kavi has written ‘Satya Harischandra’ 100 years ago. The story has been a part of our culture and the travails of Chandramati and the idealistic truthful king Harischandra stands as more than folklore in Telugu land.
Popular theatre artiste and director, legendary Gummadi Gopalakrishna known for his poetry-rich plays (Padya Natakaalu) took great pleasure in staging ‘Satya Harischandra’ on every stage that he was invited to. “The play continues to enjoy patronage even in the remotest corners of Andhra Pradesh,” he says.
‘Satya Harischandra’ was staged again at Ravindra Bharathi last week. However this time Gummadi Gopalakrishna used the broadway technique embellishing the play with digital imagery projected on the backdrop. And the result was a classy treatment to the classic play that elicited amazing response from the audience. The live music adding to the mellifluous rendition of the ‘padyam’ by the artists goes without saying, making the performance one of the best in the recent times.
“I had made bound copies of the script that I had envisaged. My idea of stage set up, lighting and scenes was all there in the script and I gave it to the technical team - Sripada, the man behind the digital images, light expert Surabhi Kishore and the music director. I asked Sripada to watch NTR’s ‘Brahmarshi Viswamitra’ to get the idea of the scenes as it was a film in colour that has scenes of ‘Satya Harischandra’ enacted by Balakrishna. I shared my thoughts on how I imagined the set up. If it was Varanasi, then I wanted a Kasi of that period. He did a good job in reproducing the same in digital images and the same were projected on the backdrop using an LED projector,” he shared.
The technical problems that would arise out of too much light from the backdrops dominating the actors’ faces etc., were dealt with diligence. Using back projection technique and coordinating with the stage lighting worked well for the play. “It took us only a month since I knew what I wanted. The team was very good. Surabhi Kishore is very experience with stage lighting and understands my way of working.”
The lead character was done by Gopalakrishna himself. The impressive cast includes - Kilaru Lakshmi from Srikakulam playing Chandramathi, senior actor Y Gopal Rao (Known for his acting as Nakshatrakudu in several previous performances of the play since 30 years), Surabhi Revanth as Lohitaasurudu, Chalapathi as Kalakaushikudu, TV actors Malladi Bhaskar and Tejo Murthy as Kesavudu and Janardhanudu, Rajani Srikala as Kalahakanti, Sudhakar Babu as Veera Bahu, Meka Ramakrishna as Viswamitrudu and film actor Uttej and TV anchor Chitralekha as Siva Parvatulu.
In addition to the classical scenes that evoked tremendous response from packed auditorium, the highlight of show stands to be the point when the writer of the legendary play Balijepalli Laxmikantha Kavi was brought on to the stage by strategic use of digital image created out of existing pictures of the playwright available.
Very soon Gopalakrishna is planning to stage three of his popular plays – ‘Srinadhudu’, Vemana’ and ‘Satya Harischandra’ at Ravindra Bharathi, much to the delight of the theatre connoisseurs. “Padyam Mana Sottu. Manam daanini Kapaadali” – Poetry is our treasure. We need to protect it – he expresses his intent on staging only ‘Padya Natakaalu’ that he considers as the invaluable part of our culture.