Filmmaker Dhananjay Kapoor’s Mystical Theatre Journey On ‘Bhagwaan Jagannath’
Bhubaneswar: They say faith takes you to a new level of consciousness. There is so much mysticism surrounding Lord Jagannath, that a devotee becomes one with the Mahaabaahu, if he dedicates him/herself to His services.
Dhananjay Kapoor, internationally awarded filmmaker, writer and actor, is one of millions of devotees who have experienced the Jagannath magic, nearly seven years back.
The filmmaker’s connection with the Lord of the Universe is so deep and intense that he has embarked on a mission to stage a play on Bhagwaan Jagannath across the globe.
“The spiritual play on Lord Jagannath in Hindi depicts the story of how Bhagwaan Jagannath came to earth, in this very special form, along with His brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra,” said Kapoor, explaining his play.
“It is a very dramatic play that also reveals the philosophy of Sanatan Dharma and explains the beautiful nuggets of our spiritual culture which is very important especially for our youth and children to understand and appreciate,” he added.
The theatre group, ‘Bhandira Tree’, has been rehearsing for the last 143 days since January this year. The team was rehearsing in the ISKCON temple auditorium at Juhu during pre-lockdown and after the city shut down and there were travel restrictions, Kapoor took to Zoom to continue the rehearsals.
“My aim is to stage the first play on Rath Yatra day on July 12, and it would be really great if I get permission to begin from Puri,” said Kapoor while talking to Odisha Bytes.
Kapoor, who himself plays the role of King Indradyumna, said: “The team has been working relentlessly, but financial constraints have posed a problem and I have not been able to pay them a penny till now. Now, I am looking for devotees who can help with the production of this play by lending financial help.”
The aid could be in the form of sponsorship of staging their play and the group will travel to that place to perform. “The donation/seva can help to get things ready like costume, music, set and some necessary props and also pay the actors who up till now have been working very hard on this 4-hour play without any stipend,” he added.
“We have started a crowdfunding initiative through Milaap and hope Lord Jagannath works his magic,” Kapoor said from Mumbai.
Talking about the uniqueness of the play he says, “At the end of the play we will perform a abhishek of Lord Jagannath while reciting the Ashtakam and even public can participate, giving them an opportunity to worship the deity.”
He has also recorded this as a radio play and will air it only after a few shows are staged. “Even podcast is an option,” he adds.
Stating that his life is a blessing of Lord Jagannath, Kapoor went on to say: “If I am alive today it is because of His blessings (kripa). The puja mandir at home has two Laddo Gopal idols (usually every home has one Laddo Gopal) and an idol of Goddess Durga. One fine day, the Almighty spoke to me saying, ‘Did you notice your mandir, Lord Jagannath and His siblings have made it their home’.”
Ever since that day in 2014, the Kapoor family — which resides near Juhu ISKCON temple — has been worshipping the Trinity with rituals as in the temple. “My mandir closes at 12.30 midnight after the seva and Lord goes to sleep,” he informed.
How did this connection happen?
It was in 2013 when the filmmaker experienced a rare health issue of his heartbeat being nearly double that of the normal rate, he recalled. He could not even walk two steps without getting exhausted.
“I saw a doctor who said only miracle can save me. Then my Guru told me to read Bhagwad Geeta, do shastang and give up on all vices, including non-veg food. After religiously following the advice, I was able to recover and lead a normal life. Though my heart still races at 100, I manage to walk 10 km,” he said.
After having worked as National Head of Films for Bartle Bogle Hegarty and COO of Earth and Air Films, he set up his own indie film production company ‘GENES’.
He is the recipient of Platinum REMI at Worldfest (Houston, USA) and 7 official selections at international film festivals across the globe.
He has presented the internationally awarded short film “The 09:24 Local” at Tisch School of Arts, New York and University of California, Berkley.
His last work before the ‘Bhagwaan Jagannath Natak’, is a 15-hour documentary feature on the 43rd Chief Justice of India TS Thakur.