Social realism in srirangas agnisakshi
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Kannada playwright, Sriranga (Adya Rangacharya 1904-1984), being a bitter critic of the hypocrisies of his society, has been realistically portraying social maladies through his plays. Dealing with a variety of themes and employing various techniques, he has exposed social evils satirically and comically. His major subjects include the independence movement, Gandhi's influence, disintegration of the joint family, religious hypocrisy, untouchability, poverty, exploitation, unemployment and extramarital relationships (Lal 2009: 383-4). He has been noted for the "timelessness of the plays, the universality of his charactersï‚¼and his deep understanding of human nature and the theatre" (Desai 2004: 15). His contribution to theatre made Girish Karnard acknowledge him as the first Kannada playwright who "mercilessly flayed social pretensions and created a language which younger playwrights could use" (8). Being a Gandhian he had his perception of political freedom calling for social change, leading to economic prosperity of India. His ideals called for a societal transformation discarding caste and religious fundamentalism. His experiments with themes and techniques, with deeper analysis of human psychology, makes his apparently traditional dramatic form, an excellent channel of social criticism.
Bharata's 'Natyashastra' in Sanskrit discusses ancient stage craft and various aspects
of drama and it mirrored the essential and eternal India (Reddy, K 8). It is meant to entertain as well as to instruct and enlighten. It has given to Indian drama its form, objective and position in the social and cultural life of the people (Banker 37). The classical dramas were based on the epics and the Puranas. In course of time these declined to give way to folk theatre in many linguistic regions of India. Thus dramas began to be written in the vernaculars, some of which were translated into English in the past few years. In these translations there can be found a link between the east and the west, north and south, with Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Kannada (Reddy, K 25). Many of these dramatists have attempted to retrieve ancient traditions by trans-historical inter-
culturalism (Reddy, P 35).