With the META Festival (Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards) all set to take place from March 4 to 9, Bhima – a play from namma ooru directed by Anitha Santhanam, has made it to the top of the nominations from all over the country.
The play, which tells the story of Bhima, the second of the five Pandava brothers, deals with a number of topics including masculinity, modernity as well as the average man today. In a chat with the team of Bhima, we get to know more about what appealed to them about the character, the process of building it up, and more...
The idea was to touch the audience through the Kutiyattam form with contemporary dialogue and commentary using music and poetry as interventions, according to Anitha.
“A play can be experienced emotionally as well as through the body. Bhima has so many aspects,” says the director of the play who has been in the industry for 10 years. And despite a number of issues like masculinity and modernity being addressed, there was no message the trio wanted to convey through the entire play.
“If we only want to convey a message, we can write an article about Bhima instead of doing a play. It is somewhat of a cliche that plays need to convey messages. We don’t always need to privilege the intellect and try to understand the message, this is an old notion,” she clarifies.
For Vivek Vijayakumaran, the actor who played the role of Bhima, everything is subjective. “Each one takes away a different idea from viewing theatre. Bhima, to me embodies the emotional. And looking at him today helps understand and question the way we perceive the masculine,” Adding to Vivek’s thoughts, Sachin Gurjale, who was also a part of the hectic process says, “I am trying to question things with my own person in terms of notions of strength, duty, desire, destiny and free will.”
And as actors, each of them have to deal with different forms of criticism as well as challenges. For Anitha, whose passion is theatre, feedback is important. “Everything is feedback. I take some, I leave some. I do it because I feel most alive when doing theatre,” says the director who is also a trained Bharatanatayam dancer.
But when asked if there was anything she would change about the field she feels so passionately about, Anitha opined, “The theatre scene is what it is. I only want to give myself entirely to the world I create, which is demanding as well as satisfying to me.”
Vivek on the other hand has a list of things he would like to modify in the scene today! Letting us in on some changes he’s like to see, Vivek says, “There need to be more performances and theatre festivals. And there also need to be more patrons supporting theatre as well as more possibilities to create work for theatre artists,” says the actor.