About the show
Ultimate Kurukshetra is a modern meditation on dharma, that presents the macrocosm of the great living tradition known as the Mahabharata, in the microcosm of the stage. The play offers an “ants-eye view” of a crucial moment in the story, on the very first day of the great battle with a cast of “fictitious-mythological characters”.
The Mahabharata is not material that lends itself easily to comedy. Filled with deeds of great heroes chronicling the end of an epoch, portrayal of valour (Veera) and pathos (Karuna) seem the appropriate choices. The ninth century scholar Ānandavardhana in the Dhvanyaloka however, argues that the primary rasa in the Mahabharata is actually Shanta (serenity) rasa. One way of understanding this, is that despite all the brave action and destructive conflict depicted, the quality one seeks to evoke with the story is tranquillity of the mind. This paradox is central to our performance, which mixes the contemporary with the classic, the trivial with the philosophical, and the comical with the sublime.
Various interpretations have situated themselves in one particular character’s point of view and have tried to paint a sympathetic portrait of the psychological motivations and ethical justification for their actions. In this interpretation there is a notable absence of grandstanding champions, and a surfeit of flawed, under-equipped and everyday heroes doing their best to get by, in a very challenging situation!
While the comedy will appeal to all, those familiar with the moral conflicts and philosophical dilemmas in the epic, might find some pleasant surprises. The text mimics the structure of the epic, with nested narratives, digressions and interpolations. Minor incidents, such as the burning of the Khandava forest and the burning of the wax palace, become major life incidents for the characters in this play. At a more abstract level, philosophical concepts associated with the study of consciousness, such as the problem of infinite regress and anupalabdhi (non-perception) find playful dramatic expression.
Finally, the laughter and joy we hope to share in the theatre, is a reminder that the ultimate Kurukshetra is after all, an internal struggle.