The man who raises the voice against the seemingly cosy consensus that may actually amount to "death sentence" to an innocent, is not a protagonist and typically represents the common populace. He is a man who even has to bother whether rickshaw-walla took more money than the exact. The implication is that, in our society, all belonging to the privileged classes want to maintain the status quo regardless of whether it is right or wrong and the deprived class fights the injustice almost single handedly,
Though the odd man favouring "Not guilty" leaves the eight others in a fit of pique, but being from the intellectual class, soon they take it as a challenge to their wisdom and take up the route of brainstorming. As the discussion proceeds, the good sense prevails and the members turn their sides from "Guilty" to " Not guilty". Each of them does so one by one after some or the other rounds of discussion. Examination of facts already gathered through the testimonies is conducted minutely. In the climax, everyone faces a megalomaniac persona who is not ready to give up just for the heck of it. Even after long verbal exchange, when he is adamant without a plausible reason, another member coolly suggests him that it is not he who is opposing it is someone else in him who is doing so. On this he agrees to "Not guilty". So, the consensus is reached and an innocent poor young man is saved from being hanged.
Reginald Rose had written the story of "12 Angry men" in 1957 and several feature films were made thereafter over it including Hindi film "Ek ruka hua faisla" in 1986. Based on the same story was the adaptation in this "9 Angry Jurors". The director was Ashok Pandey who had been assisted by Subrahmanian Namboodiri. The actors were Raj Mishra, Sunny Yadav, Shamik Aga, Sayali Rajendra, Gaurav Pal, Priyank Pagar, Jevin Contractor, Siddant Ahuja and Areyann Gurbaxani.
The thing attracted the viewers was also the background of the set (not visible in the pictures presented with this review though can be seen in the Hindi version of the review the link of which is given above) that was perceived by the people as local rail standing on the platform. This created the atmosphere with whom this story deals. Whether a person in a moving local train can watch and understand 17 seconds episode of actual murder was the moot point. So the intuition behind the set design must be acclaimed. The director Ashok Pandey has taken out excellent acting skills of the advanced learners. Though acting by all was up to the mark, the adamant man who surrendered to "Not guilty" in the end was fantastic. He hoisted his flag of overbearing attitude and kept doing so till the end. The lady member gave a good show of the feminine ego particularly in a scene when she is requested to leave her chair to facilitate some illustration by a member, she refused stubbornly. Nevertheless, she also showed her sign of compassion and care for justice through her facial expression remarkably.
The first "No guilty" supporter though delivered every bit of dialogue flawlessly still there is a scope of making it more powerful with exact stress and pauses. The member who was sort of anchor was also impressive in showing his managerial skill. The man in snow colour coat was able to make good eye contact with viewers. All others also gave good performance in terms of dialogue delivery and body language. The whole play depends overwhelmingly on the sole performance of actors and they came out with flying colours. In this conversational play, the director's role was less but not least important as they were the persons who taught how to act naturally.
The presentation by Jeff Goldberg Studio, Khar, Mumbai on 13.9.2019 will stay longer in the memory lane.
Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
Photographs by - Jeff Goldgerg Studio
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