The Mahabharata has some of the most interesting characters, but out of the hundreds you hear of, Karna is probably one of the most complex characters. Whether it is the story of his mum giving him up, his struggles in life and eventually in death, Karna is someone who was loved by all. And that is probably why playwright Anjali Parvati Koda and director Rathna Shekar Reddy came up with the play — Karna.
The play, that took over a year to complete, had four monologues (by Karna, Draupadi, Kunti and Dhritarashtra) and kept the audience enthralled on Saturday. Rathna Shekar the director of the play says, “Mahabharata has been retold through so many people’s perspective, but we thought Karna’s would be one of the most interesting because he was always there acting as a catalyst in the most important situations, that coupled with his tragic life was something that we just gravitated towards.”
The challenges that the team faced were plenty. “Since it was written in English we had to make sure the essence wasn’t lost in translation. It took Anjali almost four months to work on the first draft, then we had to get the actors together and many other factors pushed the entire play for close to a year,” he explains.
Anjali, however, says that this was not meant to be a play at first. “I read the Mahabharata in great depth and later started writing a story in two parts, and this play was really not part of the initial idea, I always meant to write a story. Karna is a character with shades of grey and it’s clear that the original writer put in a lot of thought while writing about him,” says Anjali.
The idea that fascinated her the most, apart from the fact that Karna’s life was a tragic one, was that he was, in a way, responsible for the beginning and end of the war. “I realised that in many mythologies there is a mother who abandons her child in a basket in a river and it is this child who grows up and becomes instrumental in some war, that idea captivated me,” she explains.