E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: The Sound and Light project at the Mysore Palace is in a work-in-no-progress mode with new problems cropping up even as solutions are discovered for the previous ones.
It is now more a ‘Sound and Heat’ project sometimes careening towards a ‘Sound and Thunder’ project as evident from the heated discussions of the script committees.
A spokesman of the palace, who knows the events of the 550-year history of the Wodeyars by heart and has done as much work as Vikram Sampath’s epic work, is bewildered at the turns and twists the project has taken so far.
Launched on the lines of the son et lumiere show of the Red Fort in Delhi which gives a fantastic audio-visual story of the Mughal Empire, the son et lumiere show for Mysore has been alternately on the boil, on the back burner, and in cold storage with the result a mixture of fetid smell with acrid smoke comes out whenever the audio-visual system is switched on.
On the 5th anniversary of the launch of the project with an end nowhere in sight, the palace spokesman readily agreed to share his despair.
“What do you think of the latest controversy after it was shown to chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa last week?” I asked.
“He didn’t like it. Period. Controversy is the only constant factor of this project. Each chief minister adds his two bits of wisdom. After spending three crore rupees and the budget still ballooning skywards, they are still not sure what the content of the show should be; hence the kite- flying. Writer Lingadevaru Halemane wants mainly Tipu Sultan with a brief reference to the Wodeyars; historian Nanjaraj Urs & Co want the Wodeyar family but do not want Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Sir Mirza Ismail. Looks like the script writers have had more say in the content than the actual events that occurred.”
“What will happen now?”
“The CM wants a newer script that satisfies every whim and fancy. The DC wants to show it to the public and incorporate their feedback into the script. Nobody is clear. Probably it will become something like ‘Nine hours to Rama’ some years ago. If it is a nine-hour show I am afraid we can show only two shows in a day. We may have to provide breakfast, lunch and dinner to the visitors. Some of them may even demand bedding too. The Palace doesn’t have that kind of money you know….”
“If it comes to that, you can outsource three-tier berths from the Indian Railways. I am sure rail mantri Laloo Prasadji will help. He will be happy to supply food and Rail ‘Pani’ drinking water from Railway canteen if it can help him double his profit. By the way, who will direct such a long script?” I asked.
“Only Ramanand Sagar or B.R. Chopra with their experience of Ramayana and Mahabharatha could have attempted this. But both are now dead and gone. Sir Richard Attenborough would have been ideal but he is not well.”
“How about T.N. Seetharam? After Mayamruga and Muktha I can’t think of any other director in Kannada who can hold the attention.”
“It is a good idea. But there is a danger of the show becoming a mega-serial and may drag on for two tor three years. He might add some court scenes too which I doubt if the script will permit. But if he insists there is no other option.”
“Where will it all lead to? Do you see an end for this project?” I asked him before taking his leave.
He looked as if he spotted a rainbow as he looked up the sky and said, “If Srikantadatta Narasimharaja Wodeyar becomes the director there is hope yet as nobody knows his family better. There is a good chance of that happening as he is likely to join BJP soon.”
Finally, it looked like a QED.
Also read: WODEYAR: Tell the full, undistorted story