Saturday 16 March 2019

Arpana and Prithvi Theatre's play 'Deewar' staged in Mumbai on 14.3.2019

A blow on the wall of the border  
Revisiting the partition of India in a family melodrama

(हिंदी में नाटक पर संक्षिप्त टिप्पणी के लिए - यहाँ क्लिक कीजिए)

Division of a country is nothing but a game of total loss. You get nothing out of it and lose the magic of synergy and trust. A ruthless mechanisation without proper utilisation of existing workforce can wreck havoc. 

A masterpiece written by Pritviraj Kapur and Inder Raj Anand  staged first in 1945, 'Deewar' is actually an emotive account of the fight between divisionary  and anti-divisionary forces in the pre-independece era. The anti-divisionary force (Elder brother)  is pressed hard by the divionary force (younger brother) at the instigation of outsiders (Foreigner  guests). The foreigner couple who entered the house in pretext of getting shelter in their adversity soon began to play dirty tricks to pit one brother against the other who jointly own a mansion and the large estate of agrarian land. 

The headman of the house i.e. the elder brother initially very hesitant to renounce his culture is moulded to the foreign ways of living by the charismatic foreigner female guest. Gradually, he begins taking pride in outlandish customs like hunting forgetting his actual duty of taking care of the farmers and laboureres under his regime.

The younger brother also gets enamoured sipping the tea prepared by the foreigner lady. The distance between the two brothers is enhanced multi-fold through well-crafted artificial designs of the wily foreigners. And the younger brother asks for division of the estate cutting one north-western chunk and another eastern part of the estate separated from the originally united estate. It is more than obvious that the author is talking only and only about the demand of Pakistan. 

Now the elder brother is fully convinced that the foreigner couple is the real culprit behind all the family differences. He orders them to get out. But the younger brother stands in between and states that  until his estate is divided and given to him he wont let the foreigners go.

Well, in this story when the harsh reality of divided India was still to be seen the playwright manages the  euphoric climax of axes in the hands of two brother who are ready to hit hard upon the dividing wall to make it fall down.

But here another episode is also running parallel to the original progression of the story where peasants, artisans and labourers revolt against the ruling brothers and force them to bring down the divisionary wall as the division of the estate is against their interests... They also proclaim that they themselves are the rulers now onward and the ruling brothers are just their first nominees for administration job.

No doubt, this play had created a storm in 1945 when the British empire had just expressed their will to leave India only when both Hindus and Muslims settle on their divided pieces of land. 

The construct of parallel history of the hoi polloi is quite obvious in its right earnest through the dialogues of the narrator couple. The lady narrator says that the t-shirt worn by the male narrator has two histories. One of how the people reacted when he wore it and another how the artisans faced difficulties while making it. Time has come when we need to focus on the later one.

The script of Pritviraj kapur and Inder Raj Anand is taut allowing no lag at all, Events happen naturally and dialogues are pithy and interesting. The actors in the show were Sudhir Pande, Trishla Patel, Kalyanee Mulay, Raghav Dutt, Abhinav Grover, Dhammrakshit Ranadive, Aashitosh Solanki, Sagar Bhoir, Shailesh Hejmadi, Shabnam Vadhera,  Rajat Kaul, Vandana Joshi, Shruti Das & Ansh Gupta. All of them did marvelous job. 

The show left permanent impression on the memory of viewer through the perfection of minute pieces of acting it encopassed. So, the renowned film and TV actor Sudhir Pandey showed his mettle by his callibrated pstures and dialogue delivery. Even the minutest response from him was comprehensible like he seemed to be quite nervous when the charming foreigner lady sat touching his body in a scene. The 180 degree semi-circular rows of audience actually add to the four dimensional performance deliverance. The lady who played the roles of servant and the narrator with her spectacular tomboyish gait caught the attention of the viewers. The genesis of conspiracies the foreigner woman also had remarkable mannerism to be remembered by the audience.  

The male servant and all others presented their best acting. The technical effects and sounds were superb.  Lights were prompt and responsive. Pieces of modern dance were very small but enough  to enthrall the people joined with beautiful pieces of lyrics. The special bonanza of the show was the exceptionally mellifluous voice of the male singer actor. 

And last but not the least Sunil Shanbag should be applauded for infusion of contemporary elements in a play seeing its diamond jubilee of 75 years. The dance style prevalent today, interlocutory narration stressing on parallel history of  common people well infused in the plot suggest aloud that the show lived in the present and not just was a remake of the past.

Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
Photographs -taken from the notice board of Prithvi Theatre
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