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It might be another era altogether but the ever-pertinent question of 'Kurukshetra' brought to life yet again the medieval era fortress of Feroz Shah here, with Dharamvir Bharti's historic play 'Andha Yug' opening to a packed house.

Returning to the capital after 48 years, the play, now directed and staged by eminent theatre personality, Bhanu Bharti, at the ruins of Feroz Shah Kotla, gave Delhi one of the grandest theatrical performances witnessed by it.

With National School of Drama veterans Mohan Maharishi and Uttara Baokar playing Dhritrashtra and Gandhari respectively, and actor Zakir Hussain, known for his performances in films like Sarkar and Johny Gaddar, essaying the character of Sanjay, it was a visual-psychological treat for the audience.


For Bhanu Bharti, every production is an exploration in the void, then finding the ground and creating a world that is make-believe, yet valid and true. Indian Express, November 8, 2004.

Liberation in theatre is his larger synopsis. His plays have a lyrical quality, but with strong political overtones. Times of Chandigarh, November 8, 2004.

With Bhanu Bharti, actors get to contribute. Body language is at its best. A slight swivel of the head, a subtle smile says it all. Hindustan Times, November 9, 2004.

Bhanu Bharti has drawn from different streams of theatre ….. to make the theatre of today. The Hindu, March 5, 2004.

To invoke history, tradition or folk culture through theatre is one thing but addressing problems of the grassroots level to the top is quite a different endeavor. This is a passion that drives renowned theatre activist Bhanu Bharti. The Chandigarh Tribune, December 6, 2008.

"Rituals are deeply imbedded in the psyche of an individual. My interaction with Bheels has opened up before me a whole world of fascinating rituals and their living connection with the community.” Interview, The Hindu, July 28, 2006.

The central theme for the Republic Day Folk Dance Festival this year will be "Resurgent India". This will be presented by a lively ensemble of different folk dances, conch shell playing, Shahnai, Vedic hymn chanting, vibrant instruments like Sarangi, dhol and Khartal and Nagamandala floor painting from Kerala. The programme has been specially choreographed by famous choreographer and theatre personality, Shri Bhanu Bharti. PIB Press Release, January 2001.

While conceiving his production of the play Bhanu is paying attention to realistic detail, to create a right ambience to enable his performers to reflect the inner conflicts of their characters. Bhanu is known for his productions of the plays that belonged to the Theatre of the Absurd. The Hindu, Dec 28, 2007.

Handling pain and its elements on stage is perhaps the most challenging thing to do. But director Bhanu Bharati seems to have mastered the art of taking up such challenges. As his much revered production "Nachni" went on stage at Tagore Theatre on the second day of the ongoing National Theatre Festival, the lot of hapless women folk artistes stood bared for all to see. The Tribune, Chandigarh, September 18, 2003.


Kotla Feroz Shah is our Kurukshetra of the moment as Pandavas and Kauravas clash in the 2011 version of the the classic play, Andha Yug
Indian Express, 15 Oct 2011

Prajakta Hebbar

Bhanu Bharti, middle-aged, cranky, nice, strict, soft, detail-obsessed, with a cigarette between his fingers, barks orders at a group of carpenters as a young, gum-chewing assistant takes notes. Mr Director hobbles around the stage with a slight limp, makes a correction here, drops a suggestion there, then shakes his head in dismay at the preparations. “I am dedicating this piece to Ebrahim Alkazi, my mentor,” he says, sitting on a chair littered with cigarette butts. This is not the first time he is staging Andha Yug (The Age of Blindness). But the last was more than a decade ago, in 1997, in a turmoil-ridden Nepal. Much has changed since. This is Delhi, India, the stage of national politics, where everyday someone wants to conceive of a new, political Mahabharata.

“You always discover and rediscover classics,” says Bhanu, bringing us back to context. The director of the latest version of Andha Yug isn’t about to be distracted as he is on an epic journey of his own. “Humanity seems to have come to a crossroad and all messiahs, ideologies and philosophies have failed us. All we can do now is look within ourselves for inherent humanity,” says Bhanu, hinting at the various scandals, corruption incidents and violence of the current times.

Cue : Stand by
The Set: The wind is a silent spectator, moving over crumbling walls of a ruined monument, making its way to a desolate stage where a great war has been won and lost. A shattered chariot lies overturned, its broken wheels scattered far across, and bleeding corpses are spread as clarion calls to vultures.

Notes from the rehearsal : A group dressed in T-shirts, jeans and sneakers ignores this devastation, and walks around with bowed heads, talking to themselves, gesticulating with their hands. Zombies? No, they are actors who have brought alive the Mahabharata, the epic battle that was fought on the fields of Kurukshetra.

Voice over: Counted among the modern classics of the Indian stage, Andha Yug is being staged in the vast ruins of Delhi’s Kotla Feroz Shah. It was almost 50 years ago that stage veteran Alkazi’s version of this play had opened at this same venue and late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru watched from the front row.

The plot: The five-act tragedy unfolds on the last day of the Mahabharata war, and opens with visions of devastation in the once prosperous city of Hastinapur. The blind king Dhritirashtra and his blindfolded queen Gandhari sit in their chamber waiting for news about the outcome of the war while in the battlefield, guru Dronacharya is dead, and his son, the warrior Ashwatthama, has released the deadly Brahmastra against mankind. “Nobody comes forward to stop the Brahmastra, symbolising our inability to prevent the sociopolitical ills of the world,” says Bharti. Modern allusions abound in this intense, reflective play that eminent playwright Dharamvir Bharati had written against the backdrop of the partition of India.

Cast and Crew: Bharati’s 90-minute recreation of this episode from mythology, also boasts a star-studded cast. Theatre veterans Mohan Maharishi and Uttara Baokar play Dhritarashtra and Gandhari respectively, while Bollywood actor Om Puri will give the voice-over for Krishna’s character.

Curtains Up: Presented by Sahitya Kala Parishad at Kotla Feroz Shah from Oct 15-23 (except Oct 17 and 20). Passes are available at the venue.