Marlon J.

Valdez
CommII-MHD2
Reaction Paper – Ang Nawawalang Kapatid

Ang Nawawalang Kapatid: An Analysis
What makes a play a good one? Many people have different reasons for watching plays. Some
just loves watching performing arts. Some have professions in line with theater, while some are simply
required to do so. As every person varies in the way of thinking, people would think of the same play in
different perspectives therefore different evaluation. It is in the eyes of the audience that makes a good
play.
Dulaang UP portrayed the “Mahabharata” Indian epic through a very colorful adaptation in their
play “Ang Nawawalang Kapatid.” The story revolves around the lives of Indian princes and their actions
towards their believed dharma. In my own opinion, the play was remarkable both in the theatrical aspect
developed by the producer and the actual story that it adapted. The play was interpreted in a way that the
audience would understand and comprehend it leading to the appreciation of the story, its values and
lessons.
When viewing the physical aspect of the play, the production was definitely professional. The set
was beautiful not to mention sturdy as the cast danced and jumped around wherein a part of the stage was
elevated. The producers were also dedicated having not only a beautiful set but utilizing the set to have a
beautiful performance. This is shown when real water was used to show rain and blood or using real dirt
and sand towards the end of the war showing authenticity when illustrating the story. Even one of the
narrators was carrying a live snake in the beginning. This exceeds task completion in the part of the
producers but rather a passion for the arts and theater.
Another factor why the play was remarkable was that it was very “Filipino,” in spite of being an
Indian epic. First and foremost, the play was in tagalog, and, for me, this contributed to the proper
comprehension and understanding for the audience. The play was to be shown to Filipinos therefore it is
just right for them to use the tagalog dialect. This includes making speeches and dialects, and composing
songs in the language that the audience would understand. I also think that a factor of the use of language
is background. When comparing the Indian civilization with the Filipino and American or British
civilization, the Filipinos are closer in culture with the Indians. This is a factor to why the play was
appealing to a Filipino. It is very hard to imagine the play in English while the characters are wearing loin
cloths and traditional Asian costumes. The play was also very “Filipino” in way that some symbolisms
used were, I think, based on Filipino context such as using ropes when giving birth to the princes. In
tagalog, the word “utol” or “kapatid” meaning brothers came from the words “putol” and “patid” both
meaning a cut or a stop. As we all know, siblings come from the same umbilical cord cut from the same
mother hence “putol” to “utol and “patid” to “kapatid.” Presenting the play in this color contributed to
why a Filipino may comprehend the Indian epic.
Truly, this play was not produced by amateurs and, although the cast was made up of students,
they succeeded in portraying their characters in such a way that an Indian epic would be understood in the
mind of a Filipino. But one thing that caught my attention was the theme of how the play illustrated
humans and society. Although the play showed an ancestral Indian society, it is still comparable with
many other cultures including the Filipino society. And, in spite of the play being in an indigenous
setting, it was inevitable to capture ideas that would still matter in the modern world. In its entirety, the
play depicted humans as people who try to find their role and purpose in society or, as the play puts it,
their “dharma.”
An aspect of dharma that is worth noting in the play was the role of women in an Indian society.
It was evident that the society illustrated was patriarchal where men are dominant over women. Most
main female characters, if not all, are simply wives of the reigning powerful men. Kunti was the wife of
Pandu and her role was to be a mother to her three or four children. Draupadi, the princess, was an object
of political ties of the kingdom being the prize to the prince who wins the competition. Ghandari further
intensifies this view of women when she chose to blind herself as her husband was the blind king and this
act strengthens the fact that the role of women is tied to the men they are married or tied to. Considering
that this play was from an Indian epic, this patriarchal view is understandable since the role of women is
indeed tied to men and one should respect the culture of others. In our modern and liberal society, this is
considered as unjust. The role of women as humans is more than being wives or prizes for political
agreement. Today, women are shown to surpass men in many aspects including leadership, sports, and in
the academe. However, it is still questionable why the women in Indian society allow themselves to only
be under the men. The play did not show women as people without a choice or power. Ghandari, as
mentioned, chose to live in darkness for her husband. Draupadi chose her husband when she said that her
decision should be considered in the political arrangement. Maybe women consider this as an important
part of their dharma and that following this order of women is mandatory to the point that they exclude
any other potential that they may have.
Another depiction of dharma revolves on how humans seek for power and they believe that this is
their purpose. Duryodhana, being the son of the current blind king, thought that this was his dharma and
he did everything to gain this. He went as far as cheating and going against his friend and cousins just to
attain this power. At the same time, the Pandava princes thought that the blind king and his son were not
worthy of their title and that their family deserves the power. The princes considered political power as
their dharma and they were distressed that this dharma was endangered by the presence of their family
members; Duryodhana to his cousins and vice versa. This is why they went to boundless ends just to
protect or attain their power going as far as starting a war that ultimately endangered everyone’s lives
including the people they governed. It is understandable that Indians sincerely follow their dharma, but
this, for me, does not justify their actions of doing bad to follow their dharma. One should consider the
lives of other people, not just their own, when deciding on what to do. If their actions meant opposing
their morality and attaining their goals in an evil way such as cheating, does that mean that they are still
following their dharma? This conscious choice of action was clearly highlighted in the play and was the
central plot device that the audience needed to understand. The decisions we make in life should not only
be based on our personal attainment rather we should consider other people by making sure that we do not
do harm to others and curtailing their own self attainment. In application of this seek for power, many
nations today including the Filipinos, have problems with the government. Reports show that people
cheat in elections or use bribery to attain political power. Mirroring this with the play, national leaders,
for me, should be voted not for selfish means such as cheating since this is not what a leader who is a
model for the people he or she governs.
This talk on dharma not only revolves on people as members of the monarchy as previously
discussed like being a wife of the king or being sons of ruling families. On the personal level, dharma was
also given importance in the film. Karna wanted to find his purpose in life without any knowledge of his
family and chose to follow his friend and brother Duryodhana as his dharma. Each of the princes had their
dharma such as being a hunter for Arjuna or being rulers for Duryodhana and Yudistira. Kunti believed in
her role as a mother and tried to protect her three sons in the war. In other words, all characters acted the
way they did because they thought it was right in accordance to their dharma. Though not all societies
have the concept of dharma, all persons have the tendency to find their purpose in life. In today’s society,
people choose their professions because they think that this is what they are meant to do. Many are even
lost and do not know what to do with their lives. The play not only showed the urge for Indians to find
their purpose but showed what humans, in general, do to attain fulfillment.
In my opinion, this is what made the play truly valuable. The fact that the play showed an
understanding of what humans really are, what they do, and what it means to be human by following the
dharma somehow gave the play license that it is worth watching. The play would be worthless if it did not
present any knowledge or lesson to be pondered and applied in the minds of the audience. I believe that
this is what the producers want the audience to remember when walking out of the theater, the choices
that go with following our purposes in life. It is as if they want our view of humanity to change to what it
should be. This goal however would not be attained without the theatrical considerations made by the
producers. With the Filipino adaptations, numerous use of symbolisms, added with a beautiful set and
incredible passion from the producers and actors, the central theme of dharma was strengthened and
carved in the minds of the audience making the play truly a wonderful work to watch.

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