Draupadi’s story from Hindu epic comes to Dubai with western and Arabian music

An Indian theatre group presents a thought-provoking musical on the challenges and resilience of women in modern society through the tale of Draupadi, the granite-willed female figure in the 5000-year-old Indian epic Mahabharata, on May 23 and 24.
Vaishali Mhaisalkar, centre, plays the lead character, Draupadi, in Malhaar Choir's production of Draupadi - The Voice of Dignity. Courtesy Malhaar Choir
Vaishali Mhaisalkar, centre, plays the lead character, Draupadi, in Malhaar Choir's production of Draupadi - The Voice of Dignity. Courtesy Malhaar Choir

This weekend, the Dubai-based Malhaar Choir presents a thought-provoking musical on the resilience of women in modern society through the tale of Draupadi, the granite-willed woman in the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Malhaar Choir’s fourth original production, which took three years to put together, has been, according to its members, their most challenging project yet – it incorporates Indian classical and western music, plus dance and multimedia.

Draupadi was a princess and the wife of the five Pandava brothers. In spite of being an unwanted child, forced into marriage, disrobed in public and mistreated by her husbands, she fought for her honour.

Jogiraj Sikidar, the music director, says the 90-minute show focuses on injustices to women and their show of strength during trying times. “There are so many layers to her character that we found it challenging to portray it all,” says Sikidar, who has composed original tracks for the show.

“But I remember, when we were structuring the sequence where Draupadi is raped in the presence of several men and her husband, we heard about the Nirbhaya gang-rape case in India. Today, women have become a symbol of strength and courage.”

More than 38 artists will portray scenes from Draupadi’s life in five acts – birth, marriage, humiliation, war and death.

To appeal to a wider audience, a combination of various percussion instruments and Arabic music was decided upon.

“We have Indian classical tunes with western beats and instruments and that is what powers our scenes on stage,” says Parag Dhadphale, the rhythm director. “For example, the war scene is only depicted through various percussion instruments, as if they were fighting with each other to be heard.”

Draupadi – The Voice of Dignity, First Group Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah, at 7.30pm, on May 23 and 24. Tickets from Dh75. For tickets, contact malhaar.choir@gmail.com or call 055 101 3652

aahmed@thenational.ae

Published: May 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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