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NSD's Bharat Rang Mahotsav: Agni Varsham, Ramayana, and Antigone performed on second day
National School of Drama's (NSD) 18th Bharat Rang Mahotsav is going on in New Delhi from February 1. As it was the wherein Over 10 countries from around the world with almost all the states of India have come together to showcase their best theatre talent.
On the second day of the festival today 'Agni Varsham ' 'Ramayana ' and 'Antigone' was performed.

Directed by Dr. Ram Mohan Holagundi , 'Agnivarsham' is a fictionalized version of the story of Aravasu, Paravasu, Yavakri, Vishakha and Nitilai from Mahabharata. Girish Karnad modulates the actual story to stress the social issue of casteism that existed then, and also to stress on the fact that a dedicated art performance is equal to the vedic yagna done by the brahmins to please the gods.

The story revolves around power, love, vengeance and art. In the battle between selfless love and selfish ego the former succeeds. The play ends with a statement that the worth of man is evaluated from his actions and not from the caste he or she is born in.

The play director Ram Mohan Holagundi in his note said, "The major point which made me decide upon Agnivarsham is the ostentatious Hindu hierarchy system which is confronted by the world of performing art screaming that theatre and art is equally important and significant, if not more, in appeasing the Gods to shower rains than the yagnas which are the handiworks of orthodox Hindu civilization, a reality that is menacing even today."

The play 'Ramayana' was performed in hindi by Ranga Sri Little Ballet Troupe, Bhopal. This novel composition combines the features of ballet and puppet play. It presents a folkloristic version of the Ramayana in the manner of a Rajasthani puppet play.

The movements of the actors are stylized; all dancers wear square masks on which faces, crowns and headgears are modeled and painted. They create the illusion of wooden, head-heavy puppets, but through skillful execution give a fantastic animation to the faces. Critics have called this a stroke of genius.

The first performance of this play was at the Jai Hind College Hall, Bombay, on the 6th of January, 1953. The theme of Ramayana is aptly introduced in the context of a village fair, with peasants and village-women, milling around in the excitement of the market. The performance begins with Ayodhya celebrating the return of Rama and Lakshmana after Rama's wedding and culminates in the celebration of the victory of Rama over Ravana.

The third play 'Antigone' was performed by Swapna Sandhani and directed by Koushik Sen in Bengali. Upon her arrival in Thebes, Antigone learns that both her brothers are dead. Eteocles has been given a proper burial, but Creon, Antigone's uncle who has inherited the throne, has issued a royal edict banning the burial of Polynices, who he believes was a traitor.

Antigone defies the law, buries her brother, and is caught. When Creon locks her away in prison, she kills herself. Meanwhile, not realizing Antigone has taken her own life, the blind prophet Teiresias, Creon's son, and Antigone's fiance Haemon, and the Chorus plead with Creon to release her. Creon finally relents, but finds her dead in her jail cell. Out of despair, Haemon and Creon's wife kill themselves, and Creon is left in distress and sorrow.

The play director Koushik Sen in his note said, "While working with Antigone I have wondered a million times why a thousand-year old play still holds relevance. Is it because of its literary excellence or is it because of the writer's wisdom to foresee the times to come... the wisdom which saw that hatred will never cease to exist even when decades and centuries go by and man's hunger for power will bring darkness even before sunset… and will be darker than any night."

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