The world premiere of “Snapshots of a Fervid Sunrise”, a play by Mahesh Dattani produced by Crea-Shakthi and directed by Dushyanth Gunashekar is about two of our very young Freedom Fighters, Khudiram Bose (3 December 1889 – 11 August 1908) and Thillayaadi Velliamai (22 February 1898 – 22 February 1914). Khudiram, threw a bomb at the carriage of Presidency Magistrate Douglas Kingsford in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, killing Kingsford’s wife and daughter, as his target was not on board. Khudiram was hanged on the 11 of August 1908. He was sixteen years old. Velliamai in Johannesburg, South Africa, took up Gandhi’s call for civil disobedience travelling to other cities to protest the apartheid regime. She wasted away in the harsh conditions and died six years after Khudiram, at the age of sixteen. Did either know of the other’s existence? Perhaps, not.
Two actors took it in turn to play both parts – over four shows – while the other did back stage duties of clearing the stage and also making up the actor to switch from Khudiram to Velliamai.
Both did the gender switch with great restraint, never tipping over to “camp”. They both moved owning the JAGRITI stage and sang very well. It is a pity that they did not give the words their worth. There was little attention to tone, pitch, pace and expression of lines that moved the story forward while exhorting the audience to take a stand.
“Velliamai, you don’t have a flag!” She tears off a piece of her saree which she then waves aloft. Some assert that Gandhi’s input in the creation of the modern flag of India, was designed with the color scheme of Valliamma’s sari, which she held up, not having a flag of her own during one of her non-violent protests.