Nidravathwam

Synopsis and Director’s Notes

Nidrawathwam _ 01

 

Kumbakarna and Laxmana, brothers each to the two protagonists of the Ramayana, are connected by boons regarding sleep and wakefulness. While Kubakarana is given continuous sleep for six months in a year, Lakshmana is allowed to abandon sleep completely and donate it to his wife for the fourteen years of his exile.

In the course of time both boons seem to acquire the dimension of a curse as they have uncomfortable fall outs.

Although Kumbakarana lives from moment to moment, enjoying each of his actions and catching up with his stories, which occur during the period of his sleep, a point arrives when sleep interrupts his stories and his action. Ultimately he is so confused that he does not know whether he is dreaming of his death or is already dead.

Laxmana’s loss of sleep on the other hand prevents him from thinking clearly and independently. He abandons his moral sense to Ram. But his brother’s command to mutilate Surphanakha leads to an unbearable angst, which his lack of sleep only exacerbates.

When Kumbakarna and Lakshmana meet at the battle field they discuss the unfortunate consequences of their respective boons. Kumbakarna asks Lakshmana to take some of his sleep so that he, Kumbakarana is awake long enough to kill Lakshmana.

However Kumbakarna is not able to complete his action of killing Laxmana. And at the end Laxmana remains confused regarding his sleep destiny; uncertain about when he would wake up. For the boon does not specify whether he will sleep for fourteen years or compensate his wakefulness of fourteen years in one night of sleep.

 

Stills from the production:

 

Scene 1

Kumbakarna enjoys his wakeful moments, delighting in each of his actions and catching up with all that occurred during the period of his sleep.Then comes a point when sleep overcomes him again, interrupting this wakefulness. Prematurely roused from his ordained period of sleep and then killed in battle, he is so bewildered that he does not know whether he is dreaming of his death or is in fact already dead.

Scene 2

The Sutradhar presents the dimensions of sleep for both Kumbakarna and Laxmana.

Scene 3

Laxmana’s loss of sleep on the other hand enables him to empower his regular actions with incredible fluid effortlessness.

His conundrum lies in the unspecified nature of his boon and its potential long-term consequences.

As he strives to unravel this mystery, he considers the possibility that perhaps only in the Turiya state – can one be truly aware of pure self existence, wherein one has a glimpse of the past, present and future.

Scene 4

When Kumbakarna and Lakshmana meet on the battlefield they discuss the unfortunate consequences of their respective boons.

Scene 5

Laxmana as Kumbakarna narrating the story of Kumbakarna.

Scene 6

Kumbakarna asks Laxmana to take some of his sleep so that he, Kumbakarna can stay awake long enough to kill him. Laxmana sees this as an opportunity to plumb the depths of his own dilemma and willingly accepts.

Scene 7

Laxman begins his sleep by taking Kumbakarna’s sleep. But before he completes the process  Kumbakarna is slain by Rama.

Scene 8

Consequently, Laxmana is forced into wakefulness before he can find the answers he seeks. He is left unsure of his sleep destiny and uncertain about when he would wake up. For the boon does not specify whether he will sleep for fourteen years at a stretch, or compensate for his long wakefulness with a single night’s sleep.

 

Cast and Credits

Veenapani Chawla Creative guidance

Vinay Kumar Light Designer & Operator

Arvind Rane Musician & Text support

Apoorva Arthur Music Operator

Nimmy Raphel (Script, Direction & Performer)

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