There is a strong old belief that art and culture do not have any boundaries. This proved very much true in Muscat. Although the 150-minute play was in Malayalam language, the audience in the 750-capacity auditorium watched the live performances with much awe in full attendance, and without any break…writes Vinod Raghavan
How often does one find William Shakespeare speaking in Malayalam? But this happened in Muscat last weekend!
After eight months of non-stop efforts in putting together from scratch, the performance of Ithihasam – A Journey to William Shakespeare, was a fitting tribute to the play’s director, Rajesh Balakrishnan. He had put all his dreams and hard work into getting the best from his 40-member team of artists before a jam-packed auditorium of Oman Film Society at Airport Heights, Muscat on November 3 and 4, 2023.
Balakrishnan had a strong belief in himself to bring out the best in those hitherto unknown faces, who came together from different walks of life to perform together and put life into the characters that they played. Entire Oman, it appeared, was patiently waiting to see them perform in a play that was about the great dramatist of the 15th century, William Shakespeare.
The play was in Malayalam, but language was not a deterrent to the theatre lovers of Oman. Many in the audience hailed from different parts of the world – from Oman, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many from the West Asian countries besides the different states of India. They all equally enjoyed the performances of the actors.
There is a strong old belief that art and culture do not have any boundaries. This proved very much true in Muscat. Although the 150-minute play was in Malayalam language, the audience in the 750-capacity auditorium watched the live performances with much awe in full attendance, and without any break.
Even the VVIP guests including Nepal Ambassador Dornath Aryal who was accompanied by his wife, Sri Lankan Ambassador Ahamed Lebbe Sabarulla Khan, and Reena Jain, First Secretary, Embassy of India in Oman, watched the entire drama along with the top officials of the Oman Film Society, as well as Al Sheikh Syed Fayyaz Ali Shah, Chairman of Syed Fayyaz Group of Companies and Aftab Patel of Al Omaniya Financial Services.
Among those who attended the show was also Omani Actress Habiba Al Salti.
The main role of William Shakespeare was played by the versatile actor Biju Vargheese and his wife Anna’s role was portrayed by Dhanya Manoj, a teacher in Muscat.
The play was produced by Dr. J. Retnakumar’s Bhavalaya Art and Culture Foundation in collaboration with International Organisation Creative LLC.
Dr Retnakumar, who had earlier played the role of ‘King Lear’ in a short film made by Oman’s known short filmmaker Anirban Ray, said, “The inspiration to bring Shakespearean theatre to Oman was born from a deep desire to infuse our culture with the timeless brilliance of the bard. It was a journey marked by relentless struggle, assembling a big cast and crew dedicated to bringing the play to the land of the Sultanate of Oman.
“We faced the monumental task of recreating the old English world on stage, and we were fortunate to have special stage craft experts such as Sugathan Master, who joined us from India,” Dr.Retnakumar said.
A real feel of Shakespeare’s village and his house in Stratford was created by veteran Sujathan Master, who was camping in Muscat for over a month and was minutely working with the script details with the Director and his assistants.
The director of the play Balakrishnan, a down-to-earth man, has many credentials in the field of art and culture. Untouched by the glamour of theatre, he was seen at a Ruwi restaurant after the show, having traditional Kerala food along with Sugathan Master and the scriptwriter Ashok Shashi. @C Global Bihari – https://globalbihari.com/