The Dark Lord - A Review

A week ago, I had attended the Landing Stage's dramatization of the Dark Lord, which was an attempt to bring Krishna's life on stage...

A week ago, I had attended the Landing Stage's dramatization of the Dark Lord, which was an attempt to bring Krishna's life on stage. The play follows Krishna, from his escapades as a cowherd in Gokul, through his time as the emperor of Dwaraka and ends at his death. Now Krishna, is one mythological character nobody can get enough of, and was obviously an excellent premise for a dramatic presentation, but failed to leave an impression, as one would expect in plays like these.

The script is at fault, maybe. It told too many things and somehow, seemed inconsistent. Maybe its some kind of a posh theatre thing (order is so 90's, dahling!), but give me a ballast and call me a tubelight, I just didn't get it!

The play was just so intent on documenting Krishna's darker and more human side - that of the emotional manipulator, the inattentive husband, the wily advisor and hell, even the irresponsible boyfriend, you're actually left wondering why all the other characters whom he uses, love him so much, considering his shady deeds and such.

Also, I found the background music very tiresome. Apparently they had a lady singing live but she wasn't good I'm afraid. While we do not expect Sudha Raghunathans or Ranjani-Gayathris surely they could have found someone who could reach a better pitch! In the scene where Krishna delivers the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna, the sanskrit verse was simultaneously recited along with the dialogue which meant that what actually travelled to the audience was well, gibberish.

Actually the play had a lot going on, which meant that there was a good lot of compromise in building each character. So personally, I couldn't really connect with any of the dramatis personae (I can be posh too you know), except maybe Gandhari's bored looking slave-maid. However, the play did see some remarkable, remarkable acting talent from Vaibhav Srinivasan Shyam Sunder who played Krishna. The penultimate scene, where he waits for death, in particular, he is fantastic. Another notable performance would be Prarthana Chandrasekaran's potrayal of Radha. Anusha Venkatraman, who played Draupadi however, came across as a tad annoying. But then again, her role wasn't the conventional I-am-Krishna's-sister Draupadi, but a Draupadi who is actually in love with Krishna (scandalous!). So more than feeling anything for her, we are just left confused because clearly the audience has different reference points where she is concerned. In my opinion, this character needn't have been this complicated because Krishna's story is tangled enough as it is.

The play tries to tell us that Krishna did all these things to fulfil a greater destiny, a greater good. Only, we are left scratching our heads wondering as to what exactly the aforementioned good was.

At the end of it all, it wasn't a bad play, but I wish they'd showed us a little more of the Krishna about whom our grandfathers told us stories about. The Krishna who always came to save you, no matter what. The Krishna for whom we make cheedai every year. The Krishna we love, the Krishna we believe.

*Please note: The writer hasn't seen too many plays before. She hopes to see more, and she only will if you're nice to her. :D

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  1. "I wish they'd showed us a little more of the Krishna about whom our grandfathers told us stories about" - in other words, an English katha kalakshepam? :p

  2. Lol @ BPSK. :)

    I thought the singer maami wasn't bad.

    My only peeve was them referring to Krishna as Kahn-haa! Seemed like too Northie of a reference for a Chennai audience.

  3. @BPSK
    why not? :P

    alo, u stayed for what, 4 minutes? :P the singing was ok at the start but I think her throat started to strain towards the middle and the end. And yea I totally bulb adchufyed on kanha, I remember lol

  4. :)
    Without having seen too many plays the writer almost writes reviews like a pro.

    And yeah these plays try to be different for the sake of being different.Illana yaru than play paaka povaa??

  5. Was this an English types play? Of all my experiences with plays in India, I have seen that the best ones are always in the vernacular and the ones in English, especially the ones with desi subjects are consistently extreme rubbish.

  6. You could sit through the play ?? on top of it you are writing a review !!
    Thats commendable :)

    How long was it ??


  7. Reading the title ..I thought you wrote about Voldemort from HP.. yeah I know..I guess the movie effect!

    But enjoyed reading this one!


  8. I hate pretentious plays. This sounds like one. The writer and director generally have IQs of 250 - they'd make Einstein look like David Dhavan - and the audience is full of people who are either full of shit or full of brains or both, because they're like applauding loudly while you're getting panic attacks because you're not getting one single point in the whole show. Agree with Raju. For some reason, plays tend to be much better in the vernacular. Here in Mumbai, I can vouch for the superb class of Marathi plays, though the Gujarathi ones are said to be pretty lethal. They make David Dhavan look like Samuel Becket. Oooh! Long comment! Apologies

  9. @coco - why not an English katha kalakshepam indeed? Instead of kalandha sadam, one could take kalandha popcorn. Thenga corn, puli corn, finish off with chakkara corn. :-)

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. @Naren: At Bangalore's Ranga Shankara, I had the misfortune of seeing Abhijnana Shaakuntala's English version. The thing was so boring that the female playing Shakuntala fainted on the stage (Not joking!).

    And then, I saw Yayati by Girish Karnad. Bloody bore. Could have made watching a coconut ripen more interesting to watch!

  12. Dark lord is supposed to be Voldemort. This is copyright infringement.......

  13. Interesting! Where was this one staged? Are there S.Ve. Sekhar or Crazy Mohan style plays these days?

  14. I guess you went to jollufy fabindia kurta wearin baiys and ended up watching this...

  15. "Also, I found the background music very tiresome. Apparently they had a lady singing live but she wasn't good I'm afraid."

    Makes sense, I didn't do sound this time na :P

  16. this is why i never take risk of going to such plays. prefer to stick to Cho and Crazy Mohan stuff.

  17. Try "Krishh" - it is the most adventurous interpretation of Krishna's story!

  18. I thought it was Harry Potter too :P

    Enlighten me...These plays happen often? Is the script in music? Or is it more like amusical where people talk? They happen in theatres?

    I feel kindof white washed now, because I've never heard of these :S

  19. erm, i used to regularly drop by these acts at alliance franciase, egmore, goethe inst and elsewhere contemporarised, complete with all modern isms, reinterpretations etc-my kalathu makkal like pasupathy, kalairani used to take part.i still recall a tamil version of a greek play, 'idho vandaan menalaus, en kaadhalan, arugil vaa'. gawd where was heron ramasamy when i wanted him hoarsely telling his lady love, a fat cow with no expressions," roxxy, nee ennudaiyaval, arugil vaa".

  20. by the way, I passed an award your way :)

  21. @shibu
    thanks! :)

    yea, this was in english and i completely agree with vernacular being a better medium. I thoroughly enjoy the Crazy Mohan variety of Tamil theatre!

    it was an hour and 40 minutes long.
    i have endless patience btw, thanks to a little zen technique called vouching :P

    yea, HP has that effect on you. :P Thanks. :)

    ROFL @ the audience comment :D

    lol, that could actually be the next big thing :D

    um, ok.

    @Dinesh Babu
    this was staged at the alliance francaise, madras. and hell yea, there's crazy mohan and! they are awesome.

    No one to jollufy only!

    I'm afraid even your madskyllz with the pause/play button couldn't have saved this one. :P

    lol, you're a smart cookie :D

    ada paavi!

    @foreign desi
    it's regular theatre - there's a stage, and there are actors doing um, actor stuff. It wasn't a musical, but there are those kinds of productions too. In fact, the same theatre group produced Harry Potter as a musical once. It's actually kinda fun, you should check it out sometime you're here!
    thanks a ton for the award, too!

    You're quite the veteran in this scene! Encore, encore! :)

  22. coconut chutney!

    i knew i like this blog even before i started reading it.
    I jus love the name. brilliant.

  23. Hahah I thought it was a Harry Potter review. ;--)

    Good review for a first one :--D

  24. I should check it out! I seriously need to make friends in India so I can avoid the sights that I usually see (Nalli kadai, Sukra.. etc)

    I was totally imagining an aaja nachle type out-door theatre haha, so your description was very useful.


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