In its next cultural venture, the J. P. Pant Cultural Trust is all set to present its Rock Musical, ‘Shakuntala: Quest for Identity’ based on the Abhijnanashakuntalam by Kalidas. The performance will be on 2nd and 3rd July, 2022 at the famous Sri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, Mandi House, Delhi. It is an attempt to portray Shakuntala in a different way that represents a modern generation’s ideologies and views. The musical is a typical libretto where the entire story is told through songs based on the Indian mythological story of Shakuntala with a twist at the end that depicts the thinking of a modern 21st-century woman. It is a fusion theatre where the lyrics are in Hindi and the music is a mix of Indian melodies, rock and jazz with orchestral style arrangements.
In the words of Prof. Manoj Pant, Chairman of J. P. Pant Cultural Trust, “In our presentation of Indian culture and literature, we are careful to highlight important issues. While our previous venture, ‘The Story of Ram and Sita’ highlighted the painful consequences of excessive arrogance in any person, the musical on Shakuntala will highlight how the great scholar Kalidasa wrote about an issue, which is assuming critical importance today – gender equality. In all our ventures, we try to highlight such social issues.“
Dushyanta and Shakuntala’s story has been an integral part of the Mahabharata. However, the story is never enacted from Shakuntala’s point of view. We never really get to know the psychology behind the decision to reunite with her lover. It leaves us astonished to think about how her decision could have been different and how it could have changed the course of Indian history, and the director, Mr. Sudheer Rikhari’s enactment portrays exactly that: a twist within a traditional storyline.
The J. P. Pant Cultural Trust (JPPCT) is a decade-old registered non-profit charitable public trust. The basic objective of the trust is to promote traditional cultural and educational systems and, in particular, help in the revival of theatre. One of their specific objectives is to bring to urban audiences the traditional village and rural theatre in a genre more acceptable to the modern urban youth. Their first venture based on the Ramayan, “The Story of Rama and Sita” had the USP of being the first-ever attempt to marry a traditional Indian story with modern musical idioms in theatre form. It was the first-ever Indian rock musical in English and Hindi based on traditional Indian mythology. “Shakuntala: A Quest for Identity” is the second musical venture.