Mariam’s Third Marriage: A Kannada play from VASP
Wodehouse has amply demonstrated Bertie Wooster’s proclivity to get into trouble in the absence of Jeeves. Wooster without Jeeves is unimaginable, or is it the other way around…?
Take this plot:
A big game hunter’s millionaire master makes it to the obituary column, after an attempt to be photographed with a lion which, he thought, was dead (the lion thought otherwise). The hunter, in the meantime, falls for the deceased’s wife, but has to put a lid on his feelings because you can’t just propose to a lady who is far wealthier than you.
Back in town, the hunter goes to the races and wins a couple of large bets, but the bookie and his assistant run away instead of paying up. The bookie is none other than the local landlord who, though owning a large palatial house, is impoverished without any other source of income than running book. He and his trusted manservant stash their hats, robes and fake moustaches as soon as they get home. The manservant is Jeeves, of course. Everyone brings their problems to him.
The bookie’s sister has a solution to his financial problems: sell the house to a rich lady. His brother-in-law, though, is apt to shove his oar into conversations and he might spill the beans on the problems that riddle the house.
The hunter and a prospective buyer reach the house. We realise that the buyer is none other than the hunter’s old flame. The plot thickens when the bookie is unmasked.
This is the story-line of MariamLa Moorane Madhuve (meaning: Mariam’s Third Marriage). You will probably point out the flaw in my analysis: “Aha, but where is Wooster?” Actually this plot had thickened over 60 years back when Wodehouse wrote Ring for Jeeves, the only Jeeves book that does not have a significant role for Wooster in it. Rosalind ‘Rosie’ Spottsworth has become Mariam “Mari” (she was married once before to a Mr Bessemer before being married to the lion’s victim, just like in the book), “Honest Patch” Perkins is Harishchandra, Jeeves “Bhatt-re”and Captain Biggar turns into Captain DoDDaNNa.
The play, apart from the plot, uses quite a few quotes from the book, duly translated into Kannada:
In the summer the river is at the bottom of your garden, and in winter your garden is at the bottom of the river.
Do you know what happens to a welsher in Kuala Lumpur…
“Cheat-ers” (pronounced as cheetahs)
Having said that, the play has been beautifully adapted into Kannada transforming the landlord into a minor raja and the race course is now in Mysore. The faithful retainer representing the Jeeves character speaks a delightful coastal Kannada replete with words like “uNTu”, “manDe” and “maharayare”. He too, like his archetype, attributes his superior thinking to consumption of fish broth. For added flavour, there is reference to a ghost called Nagavalli haunting the house, on the lines of a popular movie. It is clear that the dialogues have been evolving continuously and there are topical references to quite a few political personalities in the news recently for you to discover and savour. I am sure that if you see this play after some time, you will find some other topical references being substituted for these.
Quite a few Kannada and Hindi songs are paraphrased well. All the actors have done well. Special mention, of course, to the writer-director Rajendra Karanth, who brilliantly fleshes out Jeeves, probably only to be surpassed by Captain DoDDaNNa caricatured below.
Just like Avanu Ghazal AvaLu Shayari, this play had the audience roaring in the stands. There were some actors common in both the plays and I was really impressed with the actor who essayed the role of Captain DoDDaNNa in this play and the walking Devil’s Dictionary in AGAS.
My only grouse is that when introducing the cast at the end of the play, an acknowledgement of Wodehouse’s original was not made. In my opinion, it would have enhanced the stature of the play. A mention on the publicity materials would have been a good marketing tool. And as Wodehouse would say, it would have undoubtedly been preux chevalier to have done so.