“Padma Shri” Peter Brook, the well-known English theatre and film director died on 2nd July at the ripe age of 97 in Paris. Born on 21 March 1925, Peter Brook, a great theatre personality nonetheless, would be remembered for his larger-than-life “mise-en-scene” of Hindu epic “Mahabharat” in theatre and in film.
Peter Brook’s “The Mahabharata” premiered at the famous Avignon festival in 1985. This fascinating tale of fatricide and the finding the guiding voice from within in the face of daunting moral dilemmas, laces with intricate layers of ancient Hindu philosophy as seen by a westerner was presented to the western world in magnificent visual imageries. With a screenplay by another great Jean-Claude Carriere and Marie-Hélène Estienne, which was fruit of 8 year research had sought to universalize the inherent theme in Mahabharata, the epic
The Mahabharata with it’s international star-cast had Mallika Sarabhai from Ahmedabad, Gujarat as the powerful central female character. British actor Bruce Myers played Krishna and Italian Vittorio Mezzogiorno played Arjuna. Polish actor Andrzej Seweryn was Yudhisthira. and Senegalese Mamadou Dioume Bhim.
Japanses Yoshi Oida played Drona and Turkish Tuncel Kurtiz played Shakuni. Sotigui Kouyaté from Mali playesd Parshuram and Irish actor Ciarán Hinds played Ashwatthama. Nolan Hemmings of England played Abhimanyu. The Mahabharata featured a cast of 21 actors from 16 countries.
The Mahabharata of Peter Brook was on immense scale. The theater was a never heard before 9 hour show and the film ran for more than 3 hours. He had 6 hours long TV series adaptation in between. It was an extra-ordinarily audacious take on an universal take from an exclusive point of view which presented the kaleidoscopic patterns of culture forms to the western world.
Born in London in 1925, Brook worked as a precocious young director for the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1962. Earlier, he was with Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Royal Opera House.
His work included a production of King Lear (1962) featuring Paul Scofield . Then there was his Marat/Sade (1964), and an iconic production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1970). He later established the International Centre for Theatre Research in Paris in 1970 and spent most of his time there.
Peter Brook won multiple Emmy Awards, a Laurence Olivier Award, the Japanese Praemium Imperiale, and the Prix Italia. In 2021