THEATRE GROUP ‘Brechtian Mirror’ packed a brilliant play called ‘Kaheka’ on the third day of the Adi Vidrohi Drama Festival to wow the audience present in large numbers at Antarang theatre of Bharat Bhavan on Monday.
Ghaziabad’s Amitava Dasgupta directed ‘Kaheka’. The play strongly focuses on the superstitions, traditional fallacies and dangerous practices followed by a gullible caste (Kaheka) living in Kulu, Himachal Pradesh.
The story of the play revolves around a prevalent myth dating back to times immemorial, where the earth was about to get submerged in the sea (a phenomenon described as the ‘Pralay’ in the ancient scriptures) on account of the rising graph of the sins and misdeeds committed by men in pursuit of worldly pleasures. As a result, in a state of panic, people on the earth call upon the Almighty to save them from this impending doom. Finally, God answers their prayers and sends ‘Narah’ to purify the human kind by way of performing yagnas.
After completing his job, when ‘Narah’ wants to get back to heaven, people intentionally destroy his sacred ness by throwing a shroud on him so that he is never able to return to heaven and compulsorily stays back on earth to perpetually help the humans get rid of their wrongdoings through rituals.
Till date, this practice of saving the earth from the wrath of Gods continues to exist; but with a deadly turn, known as ‘narbali’ (human sacrifice) carried out to please the deities.
‘Kaheka’ successfully brings alive the various manifestations of this deadly ritual followed by the people in the Kulu Valley. It brilliantly depicts the trail of unfortunate events to which Viraam (the central character of the play), a young vivacious painter belonging to the ‘Nod’ tribe, eventually succumbs to; despite huge protests and resistance by his learned colleagues (Jyoti and Girish) who oppose the system of ‘giving Kaheka’ (human sacrifice of Viraam) on a holiday visit to the village and try to rope in government officials to curb this malpractice but in vain.
‘Kaheka’ also raises some questions on the caste system and the feudalism rampant in villages, which is by and large responsible for the killing of the protagonist, who is otherwise is not guilty of the offence and has to lay down his life instead of his mentally disabled younger brother (Thunia, steals a golden worship idol of a revered saintly icon called ‘Jaamrul Rishi’) and his father who carved the idol.
The drama also brings out the grief and pain suffered by the marginalised section (scheduled castes, tribes and other backward classes) of the society who are not allowed to participate in holy functions, treated as untouchable slaves and are coerced to surrender the lives of their family members at the orders of the dominant class ruling the village. Interspersed with some good songs and thought-provoking proverbs the play was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience.
Bansi Kaul’s Tantya Mama.