The classical opera ‘Karna the Invincible by BCKA which premiered at one of the best auditoriums in Bangalore met with a huge success. Her highness the Princess of the former Travancore Royal Family, Aswathi Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, who is a noted writer from Kerala and has authored books on the Padmanabha Swamy and Travancore temples, culture and heritage was the chief guest at the BCKA production. She said she was overwhelmed by the presence,
“When the heart is the full, words are few, sometimes you are made to remain mute. We can only share our feelings and emotions for this awesome performance, it is fantastic. May Karna live… always.”
Another very special guest wasDr K Radhakrishna, Former Chairman of ISRO, artiste and Carnatic vocalist, who remarked, “We were all living through Karna and I am very happy that we are all here to wish them good luck for a great series of performances all around the world.” And Malavika Avinash, actress and politician was effusive in her comments “I had the good fortune of witnessing the epic ‘Silapadikkaram’, written & directed by Meena Das Narayan two years ago. And yesterday it was ‘Karna the Invincible.’ A mammoth effort indeed to put together so many artists & technicians to bring to life, the nuances of the journey of Mahabharata’s tragic hero, Karna. Kudos to Lalitha Das for her passion and support, not to mention Meenaji and her entire team that needs to take a bow for the audio-visual treat they rendered! Congratulations all, BCKA. Will look forward to more.”
The classical dance opera which took all of seven months to produce had narration in English and Sanskrit songs, with music by Praveen D Rao. The opera was conceived by Lalitha Das, president of BCKA, scripted and directed by Meena Das Narayan, a writer, journalist, movie-maker and artist. Choreography was done by the eminent kathak duo Tushar and Pooja Bhatt, Tushar also played the lead role as Karna. Draupadi was played by Anjali Srikanth, Arjuna by Mithun Shyam, Bhima by Gopal Krishna, Rajashree Holla as Kunthi and Dusshasana by Nishant Arvind. There was a total cast of around 60 dancers from the best schools in Bengaluru ho excelled in their roles.
Several eminent people in the field of arts and culture were honoured: Smt Manju Barggavee, eminent kuchipudi dancer and actress, was awarded the BCKA Eminent personality Award 2017, Praveen D Rao a popular name in the filed of Music for BCKA Eminent personality Award 2017, Ustad Faiyaz Khan, renowned vocalist, sarangi and table player for BCKA Eminent personality Award 2017, Padma Bhushan Capt C P Krishnan Nair Award 2017 was given to eminent kathakali artiste, Sri Sadanam Krishnan Kutty Nair, the Kamala Ramapisharody & Manganam Ramapisharody Award 2017 a very talented Kathakali artiste Smt Parvathi Menon, the BCKA Yuvakalaseshta Awards went to Dr Sanjay Shantaram (Bharatnatyam & Kuchipudi), Ayswaria Wariar (mohiniyattam) and Pooja Bhatt (Kathak), the 2017 BCKA Award for Charity goes to Dr Sangeethamma.
The opera itself ‘Karna the Invincible’ evolved from a tight script which sees Mahabharata from Karna’s perspective. His journey explores his circumstances, where he undergoes love, hatred, pain, devotion and finally dies. Tushar Bhatt proved the perfect Karna on stage through his mastery of kathak and theatrical skills. Other impressive characters like Bhima, Arjuna, Kunthi, Draupadi, Duryodhana, Shakuni were all weaved together without shifting from the focal point at any moment. The opera also explored the hidden love story between Karna and Draupadi showing Karna’s vulnerable side. Ghatolkacha the giant was beautifully represented through Kathakali by Kalamandalam Gopi and his team. The interaction between Kunthi and Karna left many in tears, the eternal relationship between a mother and child, the separation and the reunion to separate again. The final war scenes with contemporary dancers headed by Bhaskar were crisp and the final scene where Karna dies reaches aesthetic proportions, with Lord Krishna explaining the importance of abiding by dharma against adharma.
The audience did not rush off after the performance, they gave a standing ovationfor ten minutes and waited to hear what the special guests had to say. Each and every artiste was introduced to the audience who applauded them.