The Zesty Tales of Tenali Rama

A review of The Court Jester, a play directed by Amjad Prawej

Childhood memories fade away seldom.  They live buried deeply under a bundle of unexpressed emotions, pointless worries, long-term ambitions, short-term goals and a lot of other hazy aspirations and unnecessary expectations.

They are like wonderfully sweet reveries. They are like butterflies and gardens. They are like small joys in a sea of miseries. They are like fantasies and fairy tales.

The Court Jester, a play directed by Amjad Prawej will remind you of all of it.

And It will tell you colourful and witty tales of Tenali Rama and take you back to your childhood memories.

Yes, Tenali Rama, the scholar, the poet and, the clown a.k.a the court jester.

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Produced by one of city’s oldest and well-known theatre group, Bangalore Little Theatre, The Court Jester is an unpretentious, smooth, fun-filled play. The performers take turns to portray the various prominent characters such as King, Tenali Rama and his wife, The priest and the soldiers, reminiscent in the kingdom of Krishna Deva Raya.

All the five artists – Naveen Tater, Aditye Nair, Roopa Rayappa, Minti Jain and Sarvajna Acharya – never let once the audience forget the brilliance and the wit of Tenali Rama. They become the raconteurs from the Vijayanagara kingdom, the carriers of the legend, and the presenters of the past. They also turn themselves into props – umbrellas, swords, masks, and vibrant satin cloth. These props sometimes, become artists.

The play is cleverly crafted – true to its theme and subject.

The Court Jester

The director Amjad romances the folklore in a somewhat sophisticated and modern street theatre fashion.

Amjad skilfully executes the somewhat formidable task of attempting a street play in an urban setting (at the Orion Mall in Rajaji Nagar) and succeeds in enthralling the audience – even makes them shout – “Tenaaaaaliraaaamaaa” –   in chorus.

He even adds the musicians to the mythical milieu.  You can hear the magical Djembe rhythms (West African drum beats) played by Preetam Casimir and Aruna Manjunathan in the entire 70 minutes of the performance.

Watch the preview here.

The Court Jester takes you inside the mind of the brilliant scholar. It takes you to the streets of the Vijaynagara Empire. It takes you to the courtroom, and it takes you inside the mind of the undoubted wizard, Tenali Rama.

He even introduces you to the trivialities and the frivolities of the common man, Tenali Rama.

There’s never a dull moment in the play. The stories are chosen astutely. Be it the tale of Tenali Rama and the thousand gold coins, or the story of Tenali Rama and Cat where he makes the king realize his duty towards his people or the tale where he mistakes King’s soldiers to be thieves, there’s a life lesson in every story.

These are principles that are relevant even today. Amjad’s The Court Jester reiterates the morals and the values through the tales of Tenali Rama’s zest and wisdom and his unreserved sense of humour reminds us not to take life too seriously.

So go watch the folklores of mischievous children and clever men. Experience and learn from the stories of a wise man from the kingdom of Krishnadevaraya, the emperor of the Vijaynagara Empire.

There’s something for everyone in Amjad’s The Court Jester. Come along on the 23th of March at 5 pm. The venue is Green Arch, Woodlands Hotel on Richmond Circle – and bring your funny bone along.

Promise, it will tickle.

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– Written by Shubhra Rishi

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