Saturday 17 February 2024

"Ishq-Mushk" Hindi/English play staged in Andheri (Mumbai) on 10.02.2024

 Love beyond boundaries 

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 42 देखिए )

'Ishq' or love is like a musk which knows no bounds. It would go beyond any boundary of caste, creed, nationality, age or gender. This play specially focuses on some special kinds of love which are almost taboo in a human society. No doubt that the world will become a perfect chaos without the most prevalent epic kind of monogamous man-woman love typically reflected in marriage all over the world. Having said it, we cannot deny that God has not stopped here and He Himself has created such creatures like LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual and others who doe not belong to the most prevalent sexual creed). Keeping those people in view and to free them from a feeling of guilt this play presents anecdotes in a piecemeal manner.

Elucidating the contents of the play will be like a replication of contents available on sex websites. Let us talk about the method, purpose and theatrical aspects of the play. 

There was a graceful female anchor we talked to each of the different people who have undergone or have faced unusual kind of sexual aberrations in their past life. She receives call from all of them and facilitate her or him to present how and what happened to them. This included a tomboy case, a divorcee sex-thirsty woman case, a gay case and others. Here it is noticeable that each of them is not voluntarily spoilt for choice rather all of them have succumbed to the circumstances. The tomboy girl categorically says that she was well aware of her sexual aberration so she tried her best to conform to the views of her parents to effeminate herself but every time her internal voice thwarted it. Similarly, in the case of the divorcee woman who had been living apart from her life-partner since last fourteen years it was but natural that even a mason like sturdy man can be her choice for temporal fulfilment. 

With a high degree of grit and compassion, the anchor was listening to the so-called pervert persons. Each of her dialogues and actions was not of a participator but of a facilitator till the last episode when she too presented her own anecdote.

As I already said, this play was primarily a script-narration play with full facial expression and limited body movement. Even in their constrained space all the characters were looking like in their separate world thanks to the pragmatic set-design. The masculine attire of a girl engrossed in electric circuits  and the revealing "saree palloo" of a drowsy eye woman on a cosy sofa convey half of the story. 

What I found was that the play mainly hinged upon the corporal aspect of love and did not dig into the metaphysical space too much. That is why platonic love remained untouched. Perhaps they were bound to display the whole gamut of sexual aberrations so there might have been time constraint. By design, the director had faced less challenges in this play and the actors were their own masters to a large extent, I think. There was certainly a oomph in the divorcee woman actor. The bubbly chirpy college girl was full of zeal and energy, the mannish girl was genuine in presenting her case and the man to man lover was also puzzled to a desired level. 

Sulagana Chatterjee's script was the skeleton of the play on which fleshes were added by the actors through their voice and body movements.   The actors were Anjum Khan, Pooja Bhamrrah, Priyanka Charan, Sameeha Sabnis, Sidhant Seth, Surya Mittal and Tushant Mattas. The writer has taken care of the prevalent laws and that is why no character in this play is doing an act which may be put by you as a crime. As far as I noticed, everything was consensual. Those acts may be immoral on traditional grounds but were not illegal or such acts which might lead to undue harm to others.

The play was successful in delivering the message and keeping the viewers engaged throughout the play the duration of which was much more than the previously declared fifty minutes. 

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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Saturday 10 February 2024

"The Chattaans"- English/ Hindi play staged in Andheri (Mumbai) on 04.02.2016

 The inundated globe

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 41  देखिए )

This seemed an improvised play which might have emerged as a natural product of training process. The play raised an issue of global warming and proceeded with various metaphors and allegories. You may get a sense of unwritten documentary reshaped as a thespian outreach. In the outset there are some acting trainees and a teacher. There comes a devastating flood in Mumbai and contemplating the plight of his village an actor goes to his house. He finds that his house is inundated and his wife and children are facing a lot of troubles. I am still to find a coherence in fire sequence in the initial story (or no-story). Though there was a glut of grammatically correct dialogues in the play but the only sentence remained in my remembrance is something like that .."if proper steps are not taken then there is 100% probability that after 2030 Mumbai will face the same devastating flood every year and in 2050 all the big cities near seas around the world will be inundated." 

See, I appreciate the efforts of neophytes and the way they were allowed to showcase their acting skills. There is certainly no doubt that the training is on a robust path and the trainees are also full of capabilities. But the subject they addressed is a very very serious one and it directly relates to the existence of global human habitation across the world. May be hundreds of crores of people will face harsh consequences of negligent global leaders of now. The oblivious global leaders of the world may be from US, UK, Russia, China or any country they must heed to the environmental factor and redress the global warming issue otherwise none of them is worthy to be called a global leader.

The director of the play was Shiv Tandan. He is also a co-author with Vidyut Gargi. The actors were Abhimanyu Gupta, Chrisann Prereira, Geetanshu R Lamba, Dusha, Sayan Sarkar, Twinkle Kapoor, Vaibhav Kapatia

Though the output was still in a development process so I need not comment on it but the subject they chose definitely deserve a pat on the back. In my view as the play was a product of trainees the price of ticket should have been less than Rs.500/-.
Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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'Astitwa' -Marathi play staged in Panvel (Navi Mumbai) on 28.1.2024

House is my soul-mate

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 40  देखिए )

Pangs of separation are very sharp no matter the departing one is living or lifeless entity. The house where one lives is not just a matter of bricks and mortars! In reality, It keeps a separate identity in a person's mind as a nearest companion, a biggest comrade and a dear-most friend. 

An inevitable predicament with the middle class salaried person is that he has to retire some day. And if he belongs to the lower most tier of the hierarchy then the biggest issue is where to go after vacating the government residential quarter. The retiring man in this play has a wife, sons and daughter. Nobody wants to leave Mumbai but the headman is thinking about settling in his ancestral place. The whole play is a cobweb of conditions arising out of this very situation.  

Even after remarkable performance of the actors Bharat Yadav, Jayraj Nayar, Chinmayee Sumeet, Saloni Surve, Hardik Jadav and Swapnil Jadav the play looked like a documentary. You may say the play was so realistic that it was a drama without dramatics. Swapnil Jadav as a Director was succeeded but perhaps as a playwright he should have put a most robust story-line which could have acted as a glue factor for keeping the audience tied with the play. 
Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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Saturday 27 January 2024

"Laal no Raaja Chokat Ni Rani"- Gujarati play staged at Tejpal Auditorium (Mumbai) on 7.1.2024

 A second bite on the cherry

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 39  देखिए )

Getting a second bite on the cherry is not so savoury!

There might have been a fierce love between a couple in their youth days but can it translate in the same way after passage of 45 years. See, there is no roadblock, no legal or social hindrances in the given context but there are still numerous issues impeding the rejuvenation of the earlier love vines. 

A conjugal love is not merely a carnal phenomenon. It is something that enters deep roots of contiguous understanding and interpersonal identification. After passage of certain number of years it's more a function of soul than of a body. You may dislike your life partner for innumerable reasons still you can't get rid of him/ her in your mind space.

Aeons ago, there were two dashing dudes each of whom befriended a damsel. Each pair matched to other in splendour. The romance blossomed to the peak though those could not materialise to marry thanks to some petty ego issues. Now by the sheer pick of destiny when they all meet after four decades green vines of lost love again peps out. Actually, it had so happened that though earlier, the two pairs could not make a nuptial bond but the girl of one pair had became the wife of other pair's beau and vice versa. 

Now one's husband is dead and another's divorced. The beau (now an old man) conveys the widow that he could never forget her love and that this was the main reason that led to the divorce  with his wife. But now as he is free from his wife, he is curious to again carry on his earlier love and marry his muse of youth era. The charming widow gives nod and says she also could not forget him and this had created a lot of trouble in her marital life. Now, a wholehearted effort is put in to make the earlier bond functional. There is also a pair of boy and girl of this age who come to know about it and helps in the effort of elders by shooting a video movie with them making them the main actors of their movie. A litmus test of love is also carried on by putting some narcotic drug in the drawer which is thoroughly investigated by the police. 

For knowing more, you should go to the theatre.

Nilesh Rupapara (died in Dec'23 as per the info available on internet)  is the writer of the play directed by Vipul Vithalani. Undoubtedly this play is basically a scriptwriter's craft which is an excellent  intertwining of entertainment and theme.  Gayatri Rawal, Yatin Parmar and Mona Mokha lived the characters in the play. The gait and manners of the main beau in this play lives you enamoured. Surprisingly he succeeded in carrying with all the tantrums in the same manner in his elderly avatar. His love lady looks as gorgeous even in her sexagenarian adaptation. The second pair also impressed  the viewers the same way in their youth episode and the lady of that delivered an impressive serious show in the second term too. 

Music and dance utlising all-time popular Hindi numbers made a blast. Set-design was beautiful and pragmatic. It was because of the marvelous set-design that also used the significant bites of video play  in the background. It was because of this implement that the scenes of sea-shore with mild tides could be delivered on stage.

Viewing the play was a highly pleasant experience mixed with refurbishing of enlightenment on family ties.

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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Saturday 6 January 2024

Charchaughi- Marathi play staged in Panvel (Navi Mumbai) on 30.12.2023

 Male chauvinism- Take the bull by the horns

(हिन्दी में समीक्षा के लिए   यहां क्लिक करें क्रम सं. 40 देखें  ) 

When the curtain is raised from the stage, it actually undresses the most audacious way of tackling the gender bias. The whole lump of gender bias is shattered to pieces after horrible head-on collisions from several corners. When the fair sex takes something on her prestige then she can more than equate to men in all respects either good or bad.

You may raise eyebrows, you may get nonplussed but the course of actions taken by the four women here are not off the wall. If the viewer is a male some arguments may seem to him nauseating but he should think why he does not vomit when the same thing is practised by men in a large scale.

Here is a family of a mother who is living with her three grown-up daughters come from her relationship with a married man. The woman leaves independently and has raised her daughters well in terms of providing amenities and education. The play is divided in three parts means there are two intervals in the show. Each part is presenting a unique form of man-woman relationship maintained by each of the daughter.

The eldest daughter has chosen a very handsome husband who is always there with his good-looking face but no earning. He never stays in a job for more than two weeks. His wife is a professor and earns the daily bread for the family. The problem has arisen because the man does nothing but have impregnated his better half. Moreover he is completely against abortion. Putting aside the universal moral hazards with abortion just for a second, see it in the context of man-woman relationship. Whether a woman has an ownership on her body or not? The husband shows his fierce stance on the issue and a very boisterous argument erupts. Is a man a man only because he has the ability to take pleasure with his wife on the bed or also because he should be able to share the responsibilities of the family? The ugly conjugal altercation is put down only when the old mother gives a bitter mouthful to her son-in-law. Somehow abortion idea is dropped.

The second daughter suffers from a failed marriage but shows the courage of leaving her abusive husband and coming to her mother's house. The large part of this act consists of her very very long telephonic conversation with her husband. She goes emotional and romantic intermittently in her talk. The vivid depiction of traumas of breaking family is heart-wrenching. She does not want to stay with her cheating husband still there are many sweet moments with him haunting her all the time. She does not want to live away with her child but at the same time she does not want to allow her wrongful husband to get rid of his responsibility. A very delicate and painful solution is reached but there is no way other than it.

The case of the third daughter is the most interesting for the show but at the same time the most distasteful in man's real world. She has two male friends- one matches her intellectual frequency and other ignites her passion. So she wants to marry both the men live a threesome life. The case of this young woman is different from the Padmini of Girish Karnad's 'Hayabadan'. In that play, Padmini is  successful in cobbling together both of supreme intellect and supreme physique in a single person. But here the woman goes one step further and wants to live with two different male partners at a time. What happens when she expresses her desire to the two male partners and her mother? To know this, you should watch the play.

Prashant Dalvi's script in 'Chauchaughi" was far ahead of the era 30 years ago when it was written and still many decades have to elapse before we really reach such an advance(?) stage of civilisation as shown in this play. The director Chandrakant Kulkarni has put it on the stage as emphatically as intended by the playwright. The very very long telephonic talk scene is serious but not boring because of the dexterity of the director. The scene is crafted in a way that the actor moves around one room to another during the long whole conversation.The legendary actress of 'Gandhi' movie fame Rohini Hattangady has forcefully impersonated a woman with grit and strength. She is not in this world to bear any masculine nonsense. Kadambari Kadam, Parna Pethe, Ninad Limaye, Shreyas Raje, Parth Ketkar and Mukta Barve have lived up their characters in an absolutely realistic way.  The music support by Ashok Patki has also added value to this play.

Since many years I was curious to see how the strong women taken on this man's world and I was fully satisfied by the remarkable deliverance of the play. I too am living in our present era and certainly not agree to all the proposed solutions in this play but I wont mince my words in saying that the whole scenario of this play matches truly to our evolving society. See, if it not good then we must do something to avoid it otherwise we should allow happily in the society. Anyway, the crowd of jolted viewers coming out of the auditorium was the testimony of the booming success of the play.

Review by - hemant Das 'Him'
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Monday 25 December 2023

"All my sons" - Hindi play staged in Versowa (Mumbai) on 16.12.2023 by Unicorn Actiors Studio

Fiancee of first son 

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 37  देखिए )

"Our brave fighter pilots were battling for the nation but defective engines supplied by your company compelled them to count their every breath mid-air until they died an unsung but extremely tragic death. Dad, tell me who is responsible for it?"

Since the very outset, the play is highly poignant. The mother has not given up for her son and yet believes that her son has survived the war and is still somewhere alive even after two years of no traceability. And the mother's positive psychological stance on the first son seems to be a thorn in the flesh not only for her second son but also for the girl he wants to marry. Don't get perplexed. Actually the beloved of her second son was earlier the fiancee of her first son. So, the mother thinks it's a breach of trust if she allows that girl to go to the hands of her second son. How can a girl earmarked to the first son can go the second son!

The issue whether the first son of the mother has died or not is an ordeal of filial affection for the mother but it is sheer pragmatism for the second son who is all set to marry the fiancee of her elder brother. On the part of pretty fiancee it initially seems to be a breach of loyalty to her original lover but no sooner than later it comes to the fore that she is absolutely faultless on moral grounds. She presents a handwritten and dated letter written by her said lover about how he was going to die because of breach of norms in supply of the aircraft engine. The brother of the fiancee girl appears in the scene and makes its loudly clear that the father and supplier of aircraft engine is himself responsible for the death not only of his son but all the 21 fighter pilots. 

After this the real story begins, whether to supply defective engines was okay for the businessman? The father aka businessman contends that all he did was only for his two sons (one out of two was dead  because of his reckless action). He says had he intervened and taken back all the 21 aircraft engines just before the use when he had come to know about the defect, all his reputation earned in decades might have gone in vain. His company might have lost to his competitors in the current scene of booming business.

Both of the second son and the brother of dead first son's fiancee  assault on the businessman morally and tear all his defences into pieces. Ultimately the businessman commits suicide. The mother cries on the loss of her husband but then just on another moment shows her composed and happy face thinking that the real culprit of her innocent son's murder is dead. 

The whole play is spun with the different threads of dilemmas. The mother's dilemma, the father's dilemma, the second son's dilemma and that of the fiancee all are different. They all face moral questions but all of them come out unharmed except the father whose fault has no acceptable defence. This proves that nation is the top priority in human life, all other affiliations are of lesser importance. 

The acting of the father being a playful, happy-go-lucky man was supreme, the second son facing dilemma of loving the fiancee of his elder brother was aptly characterised by the actor. The unforgiving mother in support of her first son also cast good impact. The pretty fiancee girl did justice to her role though more warmth was required in her expression. Her brother is an important connecting character who puts up and anchors the core issue whether family is more important or nation? Though the boy acted well but more finesse is required in terms of impactful dialogue delivery.

Happy Ranjit has been able to take out good performance from all the actors. The play was scripted by the iconic writer Arthur Miller.

The whole play looked to me an interactive dialogue with one's own conscience and this was the testimony of the success of the performance we described above.

Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
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Friday 3 November 2023

Mithila Culture roars in the SMP-10 Batch of IIMA

Red bricks campus portrayed in Mithila Art

Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad is a foundation of future business thinktank of India. The students flock in here not only to shape their career but also to prune up the same. A Senior Management Program is one for the latter. The basic criterion of 10 years work-ex itself ensures that the head of each of the incumbent students is already brimming up with business ideas and tongues emitting nothing but industry jargons. And if someone finds that they are also the connoisseurs  of  a regional art and culture then it is a pure bliss.

Mr. Vijay Kumar, a Senior Software Consultant at Cognizant based in Bangalore is a perfect blend of soil and silicon chips. When in office he is reverberated with programming codes and once out of the wall he is fully immersed in culture of his soil.

He did not utilise the scheduled sessions at campus merely for learning sophisticated techniques but also to showcase the culture of his ancestral land i.e. Mithila. His pitch for the culture may look extreme sometimes and many a times faculties and staff had to intervene for check and balances. For one instance Mr. Vijay felt pride in adorning a kurta with the mesmerising motifs of Madhubani aka Mithila art. On other he was seen distributing 'paag' the typical Mithila headgear to each of the participants coming his way. He did not stop here but also took out a large number of stoles with sterling Mithila art inscribed on them which he happily handed over to the large number of his batchmates.

The stoles are not only a fashion statement but also a cultural signature in the Mithila region. The stoles often feature traditional themes such as nature, mythology, and religious symbolism.  Stole is like a decorative scarf or shawl that is often adorned with intricate designs and motifs inspired by the traditional art form. Silk, cotton, and chiffon are the typical fabric used in  a stole. These are also known for their vibrant colors and elaborate patterns.   They are adorned with detailed hand-painted or block-printed designs that showcase the skill and expertise of Madhubani artists.  Madhubani art stoles have commonly found motifs as flowers,  animals, birds, geometric patterns. traditional symbols specific to the art form.   The festivals, weddings or formal events are the occasions in Mithila when you behold the traditional elegance to such outfit. 

In a post-convocation private gathering of the batchmates Mr. Vijay Kumar also distributed a large number of Mithila (Madhubani) paintings. Many of the paintings were prepared by SmreetiShree, an extraordinarily talented Madhubani painting artist based in Navi Mumbai and running Shree Creations. Palak Rani Dutta from Bangalore and Babli Meera Dutta from Jamshedpur were among others whose paintings were utilised in the event. And surely, who can be more proud than those who have a Mithila art as a gift or momento in their hand! The air was full of joy and fulfillment while they departed to their separate home destinations.

A few lines from the Hindi poem of Mr. Vijay Kumar- 
"Man me chhoti si duniya sab ki
Man se kabhi chhoti na rah saki
Soch tu chauhaddi se dur ek ghar ki
Rach sako mukkamal gar ek paridhi".

Article by - Hemant Das 'Him'
Inputs from- Vijay Kumar (
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