It is important to note this play is in Hindi due to the fact that it is an adaptation of a Hindu-epic poem.
This script was written for the annual form evening. In our school, one of the biggest showcases of theatre is a ‘form evening,’ which is essentially a showcase involving an entire grade (grade 9, grade 10 etc). Usually, these productions include two entire grandes, about 200 students, performing in a variety of drama, dance and music performances. This is why we often resort to musicals and mythical pieces because dance numbers can easily be incorporated into them.
However, it important to note that the production quality is sacrificed for equal representation. As much as we try to create a quality production, a parent will complain to the school that their child is not included on stage, therefore, many times we produce plays which include more than 50+ characters, and 5 dances and music numbers.
This time around, head teachers at our school wanted us to do a classical play, since the last few productions had been adaptations of Shakespeare’s works and Broadway plays. Our batch volleyed intensely for a play that they wanted to do since Hindu-epic poems involve a level of Hindi beyond our usual comfort zone. The school stood firm, and a heavy amount of responsibility fell in me, as I was one of the people well versed in the Mahabharata. Hindu mythology has always been a keen interest, and therefore, I became the person tasked with integrating all the ideas and essentially working as a fact checker.
I wrote a script called Panchaali, an adaptation of one of my favourite novels, The Palace of Illusions, but it had a cast of approximately ten characters, and couldn’t work with our requirements, however, you can still read it here:
There are key elements that you can see explored below:
CERTAIN MOMENTS TAKEN
The Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic and along with the Ramayana, a backbone of Hindu scripture. It is also 9 hours long, as seen through Peter Brooks’s adaptation of it. We only had 70 minutes to do it. Therefore, we had to omit certain parts of the epic poem, leading to us having to create a storyline.
Many different people had ideas, some wanted it to be an illicit love story . (but many teachers in the school didn’t approve), some wanted it to explore the difference between greed and love, some wanted to explore the infamous Bhagvad Gita scene in the battle-field.
At the end, it was a mixture of all. And my task was the make sure that first, they made sense chronologically, and second, they were historically accurate.
Draupadi is known by many different names and our director pitched forth the idea that he wanted to explore that aspect. We chose the following names:
Draupadi (द्रौपदी), meaning daughter of Draupada; Krishnaa (कृष्णा), meaning the one who has a dark complexion; Panchaali (पाञ्चाली), meaning one from the land of Panchala; Yajnaseni (याज्ञसेनी), meaning daughter of sacrificial fire; Mahabharati (महाभारती), meaning the one who started the Mahabharata; Shama (शमा), meaning the one as dark as evening.
Since there were more than one Draupadi, we were able to explore multiple narration styles, attitudes and actions.
LINKING IT TO OUR LIVES
We all wanted this epic poem to reflect our lives too, so instead of extending the play, we stopped it at the chi haran scene. This was the scene in which she is forcefully disrobed but saved by Krishna. But there are so many women in India who aren’t saved.
That’s why, still reeling from the Asifa case, we decided to talk about this, factoring it into our play.