Sunday 5 May 2019

"Manto ki Roomaniyat" performed in Versova (Mumbai) by Storycentre Stage on 2.5.2019

The beauty of romance

Three small plays written by Saadat Hasan Manot were  performed at Veda Factory, Versova (Mumbai) on 2.5.2019.  Here below we are presenting firstly the brief stories and then the review of the plas.

1. Khudkushi - A young and beautiful girl is dejected as her lover has died before she could marry her. This happened because of the intervention of the uncle of the girl. As her love to the guy was a true love she decides to sacrifice her life too in honour of her solemn relation with him. She sits on her table and calls her housemaid by pressing the button of the bell. When the housemaid appears she announces her decision to commit suicide just now. But before that she wants to express her grievance to her uncle who created barriers in her marriage which ultimately lead to the death of her lover. Surprisingly, the maid remains cool and rather invigorates the zeal of her employer girl for her great decision  of committing suicide.

When Uncle comes, the girl puts across all of her grievances to him and says that it was his barriers that caused the death of the lover boy. Now she also wants to die. The uncle's response is also unique as he first justifies why he did not support the proposed marriage and then exalts  his niece for taking such a brilliant decision as to commit suicide. He is ready to support it wholeheartedly but the only thing is that it's almost 12'O clock at night and the etiquette requires that a suicide note must be written before the voluntary death. As he is a poet so he feels incumbent upon him to make grammatical correction and others from literary point of view so that her last letter must have a dainty look. 

The girl postpones her suicide plan till the next morning. While she prepares herself to sleep, Heer, Soni, Shirin and Laila come one-by-one to meet her and remonstrate fiercely their lovers still alive in folklore. Listening to the real-life acrimony of horrible scale even in the phantasmagorical characters the girl drops her whimsical idea of giving life on love matters.

2. Kamra No. 9 - It is again very interesting love drama. A beautiful girl Shireen is staying with her brother in a flat of an apartment. As she is charming and mod, a number of suitor boys hover around her. But she finds some fault with everyone and rejects all. One of them is Nasir who is otherwise liked by Shireen except for his excessive mannerism and business-like decorum. She gets more attracted towards the resident of room no.9 whom he has never seen. She is badly overwhelmed by the mystique of that unknown man. Even a minute information about him makes her mirthful.

One day, Nasir comes and request her to join watching a cinema in the cinema hall. Shireen rejects the proposal openly saying that he is not an interesting guy because the last time she went to watch cinema with him he talked nothing.

She is always lost in the ideas thinking about the resident of room no.9. Once she heard he was crying she was puzzled why he was! Then another day she hears that he is singing a melodious 'gazal' (song). She goes to that room and eavesdrop the melody. Listening to such a sweet gazal she is now completely bewitched by the spell of the uncanny man who lived inside.

Next day, Nasir again comes then she rudely refuses him saying that your formal manners are boring and there is no thrill of some  sort of 'evil' in you. Nasir is frustrated but responds politely. When Shireen says about the song of the room no. 9 Nasir says he knows him very well and can help her in meeting that guy. When Shireen goes with Nasir to meet him he reveals that it is only he who lives in room no. 9. Shireen does not belives it. Then Nasir sings the very 'gazal' before her and both of them are under tight grip of love instantly.

3. Rooh ka Naatak - This belongs somewhat to philosophical genre full of symbolism. A big heart is hanging by the wall and long veins are routed to it. There are three men representing three existence of a man- emotional, rational and eternal. While eternal existence is sleeping  whole while the play except awaking in the end. After rising he speaks the concluding dialogue before dropping of the curtain. The emotional existence is represented by a drunkard 'shayar' (poet) who has come into the influence of a dancer girl. As the dancer girl is also taking interest in him a false belief has prevailed in his mind that both are under true love. He ignores his wife and the child in influence of the dancer. 

The rational existence represented by a friend of the poet tries to convince and persuade him to good behaviour. But the poet is not heeding to any suggestion. When rational man tries again to alert him against misusing the heart, the poet gets angry and kills the rational man in a rage. When his wife of the poet comes to claim her right along with her child the dancer girl throws her out of the house.

Now there is no hindrance in the progress of love between poet and the dancer. The poet is now exhilarated that he would love the dancer girl without any disturbance now on. But the dancer girl clarifies that she would leave him because he had no money to spend lavishly now and a good dancer can't remain happy without costly gifts. She spurns her in a jiffy and goes away from him. Now the ditched poet feels that his life is now in much more trouble than earlier. He fells down on the ground. Then a porter comes up and awakens the sleeping man who is in fact the eternal being. The porter's dialogue is pithy, "Sir, please wake up now. Your destination has come." The destination he refers is actually meant for the destination reached by the emotional existence. The man rises and moves forward with his luggage.


All the three one-act plays were directed by Mudit Singhal and the actors were  Anamika Naidu, Devina Medda, Rutuja Awaghad, Rhea Mehta, Divakar Prajapati, Gautam Kumar, Prabhackar Sinha, Shivankit Gaharwar, Sonu Anand, Udit Saini, Vineet Ahuja.

In the first play- Khudkushi, one who played the character of uncle was very impressive with a demeanour truly like a philosophical poet and the deliberate drawn-up utterance of dialogues. The style in which the girl announces her intention to commit suicide with an air of grandeur was marvelous. And the way the housemaid blindly exalts her over this did draw a hearty guffaw from the audience. Heer, Soni, Laila and Sheeri acted well and can do better while conveying their grievances against their respective life-partner. 

"Kamra no.9' took the romance to a new height. The girl looked perfectly natural with her youthful facial expressions. See, the success of this play did predominantly depend upon the facial expressions only. The dialogues are so plain that you need to convey more through your face. And all the three -  the girl, her brother and Nasir were brilliant in this art. The whispering between the housemaid and the servant was carried out with such a precision that this parallel chat reaches directly to the viewers surpassing well the owner girl who was standing there and instructing to the housemaid. Nasir was also perfectly unassuming and bashful as required and in the end he was somewhat aggressive with the expression of his love which was quite the demand of the script.

In "Rooh ka natak" the poet and his friend had good philosophical altercation. The faltering poet and the steadfast friend were wearing read and blue attire respectively while the white attired man was sleeping. The sense of dress designer should be applauded to convey the difference between the three completely different beings within a man. The dancer was there with all her coquetry airs and graces. There is a scope of a stronger dialogue delivery. 

The director Mudit Singhal showed the guts of presenting a completely different aspect of Manto's literature which is more known for depiction of the real horrors of partition of India. He has taken good work from the artistes. 

The audio songs played before and between the plays helped in creating a romantic ambiance of Manto era. It is noteworthy to mention that the sweet numbers matched the soothing serenades and were true songs of a feature film in which Manto worked. And the couple of beautiful songs were also the part of the play also charmed the viewers. Gazals from Rajat Tiwari are classy sung by Vaibhav Rawat and Hetal Varia.

The director and the whole team deserve our acclamation for conserving the softer side of the soul of Saadat Hasan Manto

Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
Photographs by - Bejod India blog
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