Girish Karnad's Flowers

Another new play by Girish Karnad premiered at the Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival 2006. Starring Rajit Kapur and directed by Rosyten Abel, the play is a dramatic monologue that questions duty and its complex relationship with human desire. The plot centres on a pious priest who violates both his ‘dharma’ and his ‘bhakti’ because of his love for a courtesan. Torn between his love for his god and his love for Chandravati, between his duty to the king and his duty to his wife, the priest tells the story of his life after matters have come to a head and all his loves and his duties collide on a single night. Once again, Karnad takes a folk tale about the human condition and refreshes it with a contemporary sensibility that embraces love, loyalty and honour.

A pan-Indian team was put together by Ranga Shankara to bring to stage this exceptional work. Ranga Shankara joined forces with Rage, a theatre troupe from Mumbai to produce the play. Roysten Abel, a young director from New Delhi who is known for his innovative approach to direction, was invited to direct the play. Rajit Kapur, a well-known theatre, television and screen actor from Mumbai plays the lead. The crew was selected from among the best in the country – the lighting designer, Arghya Lahiri, comes from Mumbai, the music was especially composed by Amit Heri from Bangalore, and Shashidhar Adapa, who is the most sought after Stage Designer of Karnataka.

Flowers is a joint production of Ranga Shankara and Rage (Bombay).


Playwright’s note


“Flowers” is based on a folktale from the Chitradurga region of Karnataka. The tale deals with the metaphysical dilemma that would result if God were truly merciful and all-forgiving. Would God’s grace ignore moral turpitude? What has greater weightage in the cosmic order of things – faith (bhakti) or morality?

It has been pointed out that the Indian philosophical tradition has never treated what would be called moral philosophy as a separate discipline. But the painful moral concerns are very much alive and find expression in epic stories or narrative literature or as here, in tales orally handed down.
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