The play opens to Vivek Vijay Kumaran’s (Bhima’s) hand gestures and intricate facial expressions, centre stage facing a big oil lamp. It is the focal point of all actions and illuminates his gestures. Most of the brilliance of the acting lies in the body language or abhinay style of acting.The acting is a very slow process as every word is given a lengthy commentary by means of gestures and mime. He expresses different feelings with the right and left side of the face. His terrific energy, his majestic strides of an elephant,wobbling eyes,and daftness of the slithering snake, and clenched fists of a ferocious tiger are mesmerising. Sachin Gujarale adds magic to the performance with the use of the djembe, ghungroo,cymbals and a conch shell to beautifully portray the emotions of Bhima. Vivek utters occasionally his own line in a slow and stylized manner to give a further impact.
Bhima is a beautiful rendition of the second Pandavas perspective. The play pieces together select narrative from the Mahabharata, shows Bhima as he struggles with obligation versus desire. It is his story from his lens interlaced with emotions of desire, triumph,dejection,helplessness and submission. It portrays his vulnerable style. Bhima is a character whose decisions in life are taken for him by his loved ones like mother and brother. His agony in the game of dice as Yudhishtra stakes Draupadi the helplessness of a man with strength of a thousand elephants swinging his mace around his head in anger and frustration.His love for Draupadi who smelled of jasmine,eyes filled with kindness and promise of great seduction,to be shared by all the brothers because it was Kuntis decision.He had to leave Hidimbi behind in the forest because Shakuni had left spies in the forest…his frustrations in love. He is reduced to just Kuntiputra ,Vayuputra and Anuj.
Bhima is a symbol of desire his love for food being a metaphorical telling of it. Laddus, gulab jamun his love for warm fuzzy love of Draupadi Hidimbi who could bear him a child, he must leave everything behind stay hungry choking. He must rise above who belongs to whom? Draupadi has to be shared. He leaves his son Ghatotkacha behind who wants to train with him in the forest. He is cut off from him and hears the news of his death in the battle but must chug along all is not lost Yudhishtra is still there. He wants someone to comfort him, lift him, guide him, but he must be strong have a positive outlook what would people think of him.
This takes us to the end with parallels from contemporary life a Dhoni could be a great cricketer but if he loses a match there is a suspicion he must have been bribed or undermining him on how could he have missed such a simple ball? Just like Bhima weeping bitterly wondering at whose fault it is life is not simple. Your soft tender side is cut by guile, round and round we go forever, handcuffed, festering for freedom. We must play this game alone and forever no one accompanies us on this journey. Finally he falls down and so will we all die.
Brilliant production by Director Anitha Santhanam actor director based out of Bangalore. Amazing second evening of the week long Meta Event in Delhi… leaves me restless to savor more.
By Prabha Jain