I have seen three plays written by Girish Karnad. The first play I saw, which was the second play written by Girish Karnad - 'A heap of broken Images' ('Odakallu Bimba' in the Kannada original and 'Bikhre Bimb' in the Hindi version), was refreshing and different - both in terms of content and the audio-visual props used to take the story forward. It kept one engaged throughout, and each of the themes explored gave one food for though, nay, provoked thought and discussion. ‘ A Heap of Broken Images’ was followed by 'Flowers' which also had a theme that was different (almost weird, actually), yet it failed to keep one as engrossed as 'Heap of Broken Images' did - in spite of an innovative set arrangement and Rajat Kapoor.
Hence I went to watch ‘Wedding Album’ with the expectation that it would be something different - if nothing else, at least the theme would be handled in a different, innovative manner. Which I think is the root cause of my disappointment with the play. The play seemed quite mundane - there were some moments of humour and irony, but barring those the play just seemed like a slightly-more-realistic version of a soap on TV. The biting social commentary of 'Heap of Broken Images' or the introspection of 'Flowers' were both absent in 'Wedding Album'.
The beginning - the video made by the young girl’s family for her groom in America to view – seemed promising, but the rest of the play did not live up to it. Part of the reason may be that some nuances of dialogue were lost in translation from the original written in Konkani. Another was that the acting did not measure up to that in ‘A Heap of Broken Images’ or ‘Flowers’. But the main reason was that the play just did not hang together.
Some of the characters were stereotypes, but it wasn’t very clear whether their depiction was intended to mirror reality or to mock it. There weren’t insights into a character’s behaviour, their decision-making process etc, yet there were plenty of situations which required explanations. In a way, I guess, the play faltered under the burden of too many issues being focused on, too many questions raised. There were just too many disparate strands which faltered midway, were abandoned thereafter and did not merge into one fluid plot-line – for instance, the elder sister ignoring her daughter, or the irony of the young man in America wanting a traditional Indian wife and selecting one who seems traditional but actually is not.
In conclusion, a play I would not recommend, especially to anyone who has already seen ‘A Heap of Broken Images’. Wait for Girish Karnad’s next one instead.
Zenobia D. Driver