Life in Theatre for Mohamed Peer
After playing minor roles in Srikanta Vilasa Kamatak Natak Sabha of Nata Bhayankara M. N. Gangadhararao, and also in Lalita Kala Mandali of N. Subbanna, Mohamed Peer started his own troupe in 1930. But by then, he had earned a reputation for playing the role of "Vijaya" in the play Krishna Leela. With a distinct devotional implication, Peer resurrected the role of Vijaya from the deplorable abyss into which Shirahatti Venkobarao's performances had put him, and made him again an innocent and devoted companion of Lord Krishna. The parting scene when Krishna left Brindavan on the invitation of Kamsa, provided a great scope to Peer to display his talent. Mohamed Peer, as Vijaya, would stand still at a corner of the stage for scores of minutes all too silently with bent head and wet eyes, until Krishna bade farewell to all and turned to him. Krishna would then move to him with a heavy gait, would slowly lift his face by the chin-with a look into the eyes, and then they would fall into the arms of each other - all too silently but all too eloquently.
Mohamed Peer created new world for his spectators and always collected the toll of their tears. Surely, as Dara Shikoh in Shahajahan, Sundara in Samsara Nauka or even as Gautama in Gautama Buddha, Peer moved his audiences to tears. Peer did not stage mythological plays, nor did he have spectacular sceneries or settings; his plays did not lay any emphasis on the stage music and yet, he toured the entire length and breadth of Karnataka creating a new taste for prose plays. His only assets were the plays themselves and a talented troupe of artists including H. L. N. Simha, H. Ramachandra Shastri and M. V. Rajamma. As Dara Shikoh in Shahajahan, he intensified the effect of the tragedy with an ineffaceable smile of dignity as a reply to all the meanness of the imperious Aurangazeb. As Sundara in Samsara Nauka, he depicted a helpless victim of parental wrath, social inequality and of the eating poverty, in a manner that it became perhaps the most effective of social plays on the professional stage of Mysore. The golden climax to his fame was provided by Gautama Buddha, in which he played the hero with an effect that touched the heart of his spectator. With his brilliant performances Peer created a respect for the Mysore stage in other parts of Karnataka.
Later Life of Mohamed Peer
Peer died in the prime of his youth and success, to bring the curtain down on the golden age of the professional stage which had started with A. V. Varadachar early in the 20th century. With the untimely death of Peer in 1937, the three plays also died out of the stage. The period of 40 years saw a galaxy of great artists and playwrights. His death marked also the end of a great tradition of classical drama and left the field free for the humorous light plays. In a way, his death became symbolic of the death of all the original pomp and power of the professional theatre and the forties of this century accepted the symbolic prophesy.
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