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JustUs Repertorya��s new production rediscovers Sita, the Aryan princess

1Gowri Ramnarayan is quite clear: Sita is a character thata��s been done to death. a�?Mainstream traditions have reduced her to a puppet, but therea��s so much more to her. She is an Aryan princess who showed survival strength in Ashokavanam, counselled Lord Rama whenever she felt he needed it, and argued with and rejected Ravana, one of the most powerful kings of the time,a�? begins the playwright-director.
When scripting her latest production, Aham Sita (I am Sita), Ramnarayan was also swayed by folk traditions and 20th century women poets like Indumati Kaushik and a�?Ambaia�� CS Lakshmi, who see her as a figure of resistance. a�?In Kaushika��s work, Asveekaar, Sita rejects Rama, while in Ambaia��s Crossing the River, she is determined to live life on her terms and create a rajya of her own. I found that very interesting,a�? she says.
The big five
The one-and-a-half hour production explores five crucial moments in Sitaa��s life: when she falls in love; asserts her will and insists shea��ll accompany her husband on vanavas (exile to the forest); her life in Ashokavanam; her counsel to Rama not to fight the rishisa�� battles; and finally, when she says enough is enough. a�?I dropped Ravanaa��s abduction because I dona��t think she was as shattered by that as she was when Rama spurned her after the war,a�? says Ramnarayan, adding that she has also explored how the other women from the Ramayanaa��like Urmila, Ahalya, Surpanakha and Mandodaria��see her and react to her actions. a�?It is my interpretation of what theya��re feeling and another way of looking at Sita from many perspectives,a�? she says.
Changing views
Blending dance, music, dialogue and poetry, the production sees Vidhya Subramanian donning the role of Sita, Ramnarayan setting the scene with monologues and Nisha Rajagopalan exploring the character through music. a�?The dance, which also has elements of theatre, reflects Sitaa��s progressiona��not just through subtle costume changes, but also through movements and expressions,a�? says Subramanian, who found the experience cathartic as she had always struggled with the a�?concept of Rama as the perfect human, while this tells the story from the womana��s perspectivea�?. For Rajagopalan, the challenge of bringing a character to life through music was the highlight. a�?Wea��re exploring various facets here tooa��from composing original music to adapting a Carnatic kriti, using poetry along with excerpts from the Ramayana and bhajans to tell the story,a�? says the singer, who signs off with the hope that theya��d be able to take Aham Sita to other cities in the country.
On March 6, from 6.30 pm, at Bhavana��s Dr Preetha Reddy Auditorium, Mylapore. Free entry. Details: 9840089030
Surya Praphulla Kumar


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