Gandhari… in search of light
Solo act by Aishveryaa Nidhi
Sydney and Melbourne witnessed ‘Mahabharata in one hour’ or Mahabharata through the ‘eyes’ of Gandhari — the unsung and perhaps the most suffered character of the epic.
This masterpiece solo act was presented by renowned Sydney based theatre personality Aishveryaa Nidhi and directed through ‘remote control’ by well known director Arvind Gaur.
In a ‘no second take’ performance Aishveryaa gave a flawless display of acting, portraying Gandhari, Bhishm Pitamah, Dhritrashtra, Krishna and various other characters in this spell bound drama. Aish who had returned from India a day before the performance after getting the directorial tips from Arvind Gaur who couldn’t make it to Australia, passionately narrated the story of Mahabharata and in it the pain of Gandhari with deep emotions. She showed no signs of jet lag or tiredness and straight away went into the characters she had to portray.
Gandhari is a very prominent character of Mahabharata. In the monologue, Gandhari is shown to have a normal childhood, playing and frolicking with friends when suddenly there is a twist in her life. The daughter of the King of Gandhar, Princess Gandhari is forced to marry the blind and much older king Dhrithrashtra. “Maryada Ke Bandhan” and the boon that she will bear 100 sons became the curse of her life.
Gandhari blind-folded herself and vows to remain so for the rest of her life. Just imagine the pain of not being able to see her children and learning about them through the eyes of others. Aishveryaa displays such emotions very artistically. The pain wells up tears in her eyes. Says Aishveryaa,” If I don’t get tears in my eyes I even put off the rehearsals.” ‘She had done a commendable job by alternating between different characters and displaying different emotions and delivering dialogues in various moods non-stop for one hour,” said Rekha Rajvanshi, noted Hindi poetess and broadcaster. She has done reasonably well justifying all characters, she said.
The only complaint Aishveryaa had was about the lighting facilities which were not adequate to show off the expressions. Yet, there was no emotion or expression in her repertoire that was not ably displayed. The background music was scored by Dr. Sangeeta Gaur, who flew in to Australia specially for the show.
Asked about the anti-war theme of the monologue, Aish says Gandhari tried to prevent the war by all means but she had to give in to the stubborness of her husband and son Duryodhana who turns down the offer of giving away five villages to the five Pandava brothers. Helpless and subdued, Gandhari also rejects the disrobing of Draupadi. The relevance of the play in the contemporary world is that it highlights the anti-war theme and the role of women, especially the mother in educating the society to give up violence” says Aishveryaa who has been very actively involved in popularising Indian theatre in western countries. She is the Artistic Director of Abhinay Theatre.
Arvind Gaur, who has directed plays by Indian and International playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht,Dario Fo, Vijay Tendulkar, Mahesh Dattani,Munshi Premchand,Girish Karnad, Swadesh Deepak and Dharamveer Bharti to name a few also directed Hamare Padosi based on short stories by Chekhov and Kunti Putra Karna for Abhinay Theatre featuring Aishveryaa and Shouyra Nidhi.
Aish and Arvind Gaur as a team have many plays to their credit. This play was first performed at NIDA theatre at National Institute of Dramatic Art and received rave reviews from media. This play was also invited to perform at ITI UNESCO one man show International Festival 2005.
Proceeds of the shows go to home and community care projects of Sri Om Care.