Aaranyak | Marathi Play – The Play of the Month for December 2019

Aaranyak is a Marathi play exploring the post-war parts of the epic Mahabharata. The roles of the characters may be ancient but the thoughts that they discuss are very much of the present-day scenario. The great war of Mahabharata was fought using weapons that are as powerful as our modern-day missiles. So, the spoils of war that the Pandavas, the winning team, take away are just rubbles of broken spirits and an unnatural end to the future generation leaving behind just a group of aging main characters.

I would like to raise a question | Is War Really the Solution to Unresolved or Complex Disputes?! Kuru’s family was destined for sorrow and Mahabharata is an epic tragedy.

A Disclaimer Before I Get Carried Away

Sometimes flashbacks provide rich understanding and aids in self-discovery. In my Childhood, on Sunday there was a schedule for watching the TV. A scheduled regional movie gets telecast on DD around the afternoon. I was the most eager watcher of those movies, I don’t know anything about other’s preference, but then, TV slots are hard-won, so, since I didn’t face any objection, I think all were ready to see it.

I remember seeing a Marathi movie of a ‘Nataka Mandali’ and how a schoolmaster is a staunch believer in good education and straight living is against the heroine the danseuse. How he falls in love with her and loses his complete dignity and lost his identity completely? Watch the movie for that! So, I have always had a fascination with seeing these regional language movies. So, I would have at least once seen a movie from all the states of India.   

Getting Back to the Play and the Unpleasant Fruits of War

Yudhishthira, the intellectual of the five Pandu sons is gripped with the sense of despair as the blind and defeated King Dhritarashtra, his wife Gandhari, Pandavas’ mother Kunti and Vidura, the wise Council of the Kuru, along with a serving soldier-cum-herald decide to leave for the forest in-keeping with the dictates of the life’s stages: Vanaprastha to seek salvation for the wounded soul.

It is almost as if it is an after-thought that came very late and a futile project to seek salvation where the pain of the past refused to relinquish its hold on the main characters. The play has a Chorus which sings of relentless Dharma and its adherence marking at regular intervals the import of fruitlessness of the war.

There is a lot of statement moment but more of a strong unwillingness to accept the consequence of greed and power play that was the cause of the war in the first place. No amount of intellectualization can cure the pus-filled wound of war and the defeat that followed close-at-hands as dealt by the law of Karma and because of the deeds of the greed and the jealous ridden sons of Dhritarashtra.

Excellent Use of Yuyustu’s Ghost

Yuyustu is the son born to a maid and the Blind King Dhritarashtra and is not recognized as a legal heir. He chooses to side the Pandava in the war. Eventually, he is the only son left of the King. But then he is also not spared in the confusion of horror, for at the end of war everyone goes mentally deranged. The excellence of this play is in how Yuyustu raises the question and later in his ghost role in the forest reveals the hopelessness and futileness of renouncing the materialistic living at a time when the vault of human grace has been compromised for greed and selfish vanity.

That the illusion of peace that great sages and human being try to profess is an illusion of peace and the permanent peace of the being death alone will result in the attainment of complete calm and silence. Even the peace of death will not leave the spirit in peace. It was novel to see the peace in the forest is a death knell for spiritual progress. The seeds of vulgar greed and ravenous revenge rots the soul from within creating the vicious cycle of birth and death.

Exploring the Multi-faceted Thought Process

The interaction between the characters and inter-play of the chorus to drive in a specific concept of the timeless quality of Dharma being the all involved saving grace was done to perfection. But even that person who is considered an Avatar of Vishnu dies as the curse comes into effect. Leaving the very last hope for a saving grace for the generation ahead. It is also believed that Kaliyuga began with Krishna’s death.  

The whole play was a defective character role whose intrinsic quality and choices result in an end that defies every human compassion. There is sometimes a block in the expansion of understanding which is clearly seen when the character is unwilling to let go of the past thought and keeps justifying it to prove themselves.

Kurunandan’s Familial War and Defeat Writ on All Faces

I feel sorry for Yudhishthira because he takes the reign of a nation which was like a war-worn horse and a chariot broken beyond repair. Now this nation, he had to inspire and encourage as it mourns the death of its young generation. This scene is no different from our present-day scenario when we lose our valorous youth of soldiers to the war. Here the war called for the justified anger that encouraged the spirit of warfare. A Nation bound by its fervor for a bond of honor.

Aaranyak explores more from the point of when the war could have been prevented but then, the characters are taken over by the need to find peace. Peace is almost obsessive in the play or it is my understanding or there was a language barrier that I couldn’t tide over. The wrong did and the wrong not corrected doesn’t give the option of making a beeline for corrective steps. The play was a glorious win, but it was very tragic and full of distress. Yet there were pearls of experiential understanding and worth watching.

Image Source: Marathi World dot Com