Karna, the most under-rated but virtuous characters of Mahabharata. The secret love of Draupadi, the secret son of Kunti, the secret best warrior who could not prove his worth just because he was..till the end, an ill-fated man. This play  focuses on the  story of that ill-fated man of Mahabharata.

Only because Karna was the son of a charioteer and a low-caste, he was not even allowed to prove his skills. There has been numerous plays staged on Karna till now. But this play scripted and directed by Heisnam Kanhailal, father of experimental theatre, throws light on the much neglected aspect of Karna- his parents and his childhood. Karna’s mother-Radha who brought up Karna goes through anguish and pain when after Karna’s death in the battlefield, Kunti finally announces the truth about Karna to everybody and with that forbids the cremation of Karna through Shudra rites to ensure the easy passage of Karna to heaven as was believed then.

Karna was always used to  glorify the upper caste. The play resonates the dismay of Karna as he laments that however he was not set within the body and spirit of a Sudra, he was solely identified as a Sudra throughout his life. As Radha calls out to  him –  “Karna, if you really made us the ,lower caste, a part of your life, then we call you. All five elements of your body has turned into ash, but your life still remains. Come, come before us. ” Karna, in turn, responds –  “Receive me in your womb for the next Mahabharataof the underprivileged when it comes out to be”. This play enables us to view Karna’s story in an entirely different light. Karna was used as a role model for matching up to the higher caste. By becoming a king and a renowned warrior, although with no evident royal lineage, Karna was, for them, a symbol of equality they could only dare to dream. They considered Karna as the brand ambassador of against the divine upper class.  But ironically, Karna himself, was in truth , a royal descendent himself. Had he been actually belonged to a low lineage, would he suffer the same consequences?Interestingly, Karna himself laments that he could not bring justice to the society and class in which he was born and brought up. Truly indeed, it is difficult to sketch and analyze a character as complex as Karna.

This play was staged using the experimental theatre or physical theatre methodology invented by Heisnam Kanhailal. Following the Manipuri folk culture in terms of choreography, music and costumes, the striking feature of this play was the strong body language. The choreography was beautiful. Hardik Shah and Debashish Mondal, both were excellent in expressing the anguish and latent anger, but it was Hardik Shah who took the prize with his perfect portrayal of Karna- his preparation for becoming a warrior, his pride on becoming one, his helplessness on being struck by Arjuna when unarmed, and anguish when unable to bring justice to his mother, Radha, even after his death. Wrapped in an hour or so,this play gave us something, which is sometimes the sole reason we watch a play based on as mundane a subject as Mahabharata- a fresh new perspective !