Thursday, January 07, 2010

Arahanta - a review

Multiple failed attempts to book tickets for 3 Idiots and Avatar. A weekend without entertainment. It was heading to a dull finish. Then came Arahanta. Where-else - Rangashankara.

First impression on the Kannada play -
  • Thin storyline
  • Excellent acting
  • Good costumes
If you want numbered ratings - 3 out of 5

Story starts off in a Jain monastery with the announcement that the Jain king of Kalinga has just vanished from the palace and his "not so good" (NSG) son will take over the gaddi. Quickly you can recall the battle of Kalinga after which Ashoka(the Great) became a peace lover after a blood bath. So the story is about the same Kalinga kingdom.

Story continues - Kalinga is now a subordinate of the powerful Hindu kingdom of Magadha. And as a mark of their superiority over Kalinga, Magadha emperor has taken the revered and massive 1st Jain thirthankara statue from Kalinga to Magadha. Long standing "ambition" of all Kalinga emperors is to bring back the statue but the "ambition" is still a dream. The catch is the statue needs to be got back only through peaceful process and not war. Why? Because Kalinga is a Jain kingdom and Jains are peace lovers\followers.

NSG is young and energetic. Quick results is his way. He has a minister who adds fuel to NSG's burning "ambition". "If the statue is ours, then whatever means we take (war or peace), we should get it" is NSG's philosophy.
On a parallel note, there are efforts to bring back the statue in a peaceful manner with the help of Jain businessmen and their money.
But circumstances force a war between NSG and Magadha kingdom and NSG wins.

The climax of the 90 mins play will answer the open questions -
  • Can NSG bring back the statue to Kalinga ?
  • Will NSG become good ?
  • What happened to the runaway king ?
Arunsagar's stage setting is simple and good. The king's dialogue delivery is loud and touching. NSG has shown good aggressive nature. Unnecessary characters like NSG's mother, the monks of the monastery could have been avoided. Playwright Ramnath has overused the Jain religion concept of peace. Magadha rulers are shown in a bad light needlessly.

Message for today was very loud and clear - Avoid wars and embrace the peace path for success.

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