This year’s student production it Rakt Kalyan and has been directed by Sunil Shanbag. It is the Hindi adaptation of Girish Karnad’s Taledanda. And if you just did a backflip to see those two names together, we don’t blame you!
Taledanda is a significant piece of Postmodern Indian literature. Though set in 12th Century Karnataka, Taledanda was originally written in 1989 when the Mandal vs Mandir crisis was beginning to escalate. It explores the intersection of religion and politics during the Bhakti Movement and juxtaposes our history against our present. Like it did nearly three decades ago, the DSM student production hopes to compel audiences and examine parallels between past and present.
Rakt Kalyan tells the story of a man called Basavanna who assembles a congregation of poets, mystics, social revolutionaries and philosophers. Together, they decide to oppose idolatry and reject temple worship. They even speak out against the caste system and demand equality of gender. But when they act on their beliefs and get a Brahmin girl married to a non-Brahmin boy, everything changes. And thus a vibrant, prosperous city plunges into anarchy and terror.
The play gives us insight into how any attempt to change the system comes with heavy consequences. And how individuals and societies navigate change across the ages.
Rakt Kalyan opens on the 9th of March at Drama School Mumbai. After shows in Mumbai, the team takes the production on the road, performing at Bangalore, Ninasam and then back to Mumbai for a final leg of shows.