Friday, May 16, 2008

Review of 'Wedding Album' - a play by Girish Karnad

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


Deeksha said...

i was just browsing the net for something about Karnad's Weeding Album... and i found ur blog.. and i so agree with what've written. Even i thought it was like a tv serial scriptbrought to theatre. i was truly disappointed as well and walked out half way!

Entropy said...

Hi Deeksha,
Have you seen his other plays though ? 'A Heap of Broken Images' is totally worth seeing.

Radhi said...

I was browsing through the net in search of a review of this play and went to watch it last night (Singapore). I totally agree with you. I felt it raised too many issues and too many questions which weren't dealt with completely. When asked, Lillette Dubey says it was meant to be snap shots of the family so it does not carry a message.
But yet I came back with very mixed feelings--though I could relate to some parts of it and they did seem funny, I felt the play was very incomplete and the characters very choppy.
I haven't seen any other play of Karnad.


Entropy said...

Hi Radhi,
Welcome to entropymuse. Hope you visit many times.

Try watching 'a heap of broken images' sometime. It is a really god, interesting play.


Entropy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashi said...

Hi Entropy,
I am a research scholar working on Karnad and Bertholt Brecht, and was searching the net for some reviews on Karnad's Wedding Album.

You have mentioned in ur blog that Karnad's first play is Broken Images, in 1964. I'd just like to state that Karnad's first play was Yayati which he wrote in 1961, before leaving for his Rhodes Scholarship.

Your blog was interesting and review helpful. Hope to read more from u in future.

Entropy said...

Hi Ashi,
Thanks for the correction.
Hope you visit the blog again soon - looking forward to seeing your comments.

Anonymous said...

Zen, Did you study in IITB? I just stumbled on this review as I am planning to buy tickets for this weekend show in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even though your review makes me less enthu to watch this, I'll go ahead and buy the tickets anyways. -Pinks

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous,
Good to see you on the blog.
Did you watch the play ? Did you like it ? Agree or disagree with the review here ?
Let me know.

p.s. Yep, I studied in IITB.