Karna was born to the mother of the Pandavas; as she was unmarried at the time and had invoked a prayer to the Sun out of curiosity, she floated the baby out in the river and he was brought up by a charioteer and his wife, and grew up believing that he was of lowly birth. Later, his mother married and had five princes as sons, who, as sons of Pandu, were called the Pandavas.
Karna went to learn archery from Parashu Rama, who taught him in the belief that he would help him eradicate his enemies, the Kshatriyas. Once, to enable his teacher to sleep, Karna put the teacher's head on his lap, and even though bitten by a snake, bore the pain stoically. When the teacher woke up to the drip of blood, he realized that only a Kshatriya (warrior race) could bear pain like that, and angered at what he thought was Karna's deception, cursed him that in the hour of his need, all his knowledge of arms and their use would desert him.
Karna learnt the secret of his birth only later, when Kunti visited him on the eve of the great Mahabharatha battle, when he realized that he was arrayed against his own brothers.
Alas for Karna on stage! When he was proving his valour as an archer, and bringing down from the tree all the leaves as against Arujna's hundred...the arrow on stage, instead of going gracefully offstage as it should have, went and hit Duryodhana fair and square...who had to pretend it wasn't there. Bhishma had a dhoti split wide open at the you-know-where and we couldn't even look in that direction....the irony was Dhritharashtra, the blind king, having a dhoti that was...see-through! Karna and Duryodhana yelled in English, Shakuni (who is Gandhar Naresh, or king of Khandahar in Afghanistan) shouted in some horrible half-literary, half-slang Tamizh, Shukracharya yowled in Hindi. and when Dhritarashtra suddenly started screaming in Kannada, we just couldn't stop our laughter...
We all determined to come out during the interval and never go back...and that was the best of all , the play which the brochure said would last 150 minutes, ended in 90...giving us blessed release!
Oh well, the last play we attended was excellent....Khatijabhai of Karmali Terrace, based on Emily of Emerald Hill...you win some, you lose some, I guess!