THEATRE REVIEW OF Panchajanya- a contradiction to Krishna’s love with his politics


Production: Nandikar

Directed By: Sohini Sengupta

Cast: Swatilekha Sengupta, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Sohini Sengupta, Shambhu, Swajan Srijan, Sushanta, Parthapratim and other young actors of Nandikar




The word Panchajanya has several allegorical and metaphorical meanings which ultimately concludes at a single character – KRISHNA. Literally 
Panchajanya is the Shankha conch of the Hindu god Vishnu. To this reference we can add that Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, is described possessing a shankha called Panchajanya, one of his four attributes together with the mace Kaumodaki, the disc-like weapon Sudarshana Chakra and a lotus flower. And mythology claims that whenever Krishna blows from the shell it foreshadows the death of his next opponent. The title of the play was apt and beautiful not only because the leading character of the play was Krishna, but it described Krishna both as an eternal lover and a cunning politician. To the common man, the image of Lord Krishna immediately brings to mind a beautiful, joyous, flamboyant lord who spent his time in dalliances with the Gopis, romancing his childhood friend and soul mate, Radha. What many of us do not even give a thought to is the fact that Krishna was also a husband, father, king, ace politician and friend of many. The main mission of the Krishna avatar was to pass on the supreme knowledge of Dharma and Karma to Arjuna, during the Kurukshetra war.
 To this counterpart we also portray Krishna probably as the most complete and competent politician ever known. He was a loyal friend to the Pandavas. He knew that the five sons of Kunti and Pandu, the Pandavas, were always on the path of Dharma and so, he remained on their side throughout, supporting them and helping them out through the toughest of times, eventually also helping them win against the Kauravas in the great Kurukshetra War – though he wasn’t always righteous and virtuous!

Sohini sengupta s musical drama features both these images of Krishna.



Let’s look at the main plot first.

The war of Kurukshetra has just ended. Gandhari, after losing her hundred sons, is a much-grieved lady. She holds Krishna responsible for her misery. Radha asks Krishna why, despite being the most powerful person in India, Krishna cannot confide in anyone. Krishna tells his side of the story. As the story unfolds we see how Krishna, the young shepherd boy, is always trusted by people around him to be their saviour. How every-time it is Krishna who has to take a strong and sometimes unpleasant stand to ensure justice. How Krishna must sacrifice his personal life to free India from the hungry grip of Jarasandha and Kamsa in order to establish the rule of Dharma. But destiny blended with the epic war parts the character of Krishna.

The play technically evaluates the character of Krishna both as a great warrior and a politician.

To say someone is god, you need to know god and you need to know that someone. God as a concept has remained a mystery as our understanding needs to transcend perceptions and resonate our self with the experience. Very few or none have that experience. In the same way, even to negate that someone is god, needs him/her to understand the concept of God completely to be sure that the someone is NOT God. In my humble opinion, either saying yes or no is something based on belief and the truth cannot be ascertained by belief alone.

Smart? From Krishna’s life, we do understand that he is smart. His smartness however did not hover in the superfluous go getting. It went to the roots and fundamentals that dictated the moral fabric. His clarity of thinking enabled him to differentiate between what is ‘right’ (Dharma) and what ‘enables or preserves’ the right (rules, doctrines, directives etc formulated by generations of seers to preserve Dharma). Most of us confuse both. His understanding however took him beyond the enabling fabric and address Dharma itself. 

Cunning person?. Dictionary defines ‘cunning’ as ‘achieving one’s ends by deceit or evasion’. Now, we shall need to examine what was Krishna’s end or aim. His aim began from killing kansa to protect his family and Yadavas and evolved to saving the Yadavas from Jarasandha to erecting an empire that would put an end to oppressive and expansive ambitions of Kings. He tried to achieve this constructively through Rajasuya. But when it failed due to the dice game, he did not go back from staying through the great war and steering the side he thought was right to victory. What did he personally achieve at the end of it? A curse from Gandhari and destruction of his clan. It is open to the readers to judge for themselves about his ‘cunning’ ness.

Each and every character gained a special mention for their roles. I won’t praise any of the characters individually because “it was the best” and I was left nothing to judge. I feel its really very difficult to put up a performance keeping a plot from an epic in mind. Nandikar proved it.  A special mention should be mentioned for the dialogues and the screenplay which includes a musical, occasional dialogues exchange among the characters.










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