Sunday 25 December 2022

"Sham kahaniyon ki" presented by The Theatre Unit on 24.12.2022 at Pritvi House (Mumbai)

The bite of pretensions
हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए - यहाँ क्लिक कीजिए

The 'biting' trespasses the echelons of the nerves and mind and reaches your soul, questions straight the premise of your existence. You find yourself heavily stirred to reconsider your own 'make'. “Shaam Kahaaniyon Ki” was not just a montage of short stories, it was an all-time quintessence of satires in Hindi-Urdu literature. 

To let you peep into the event, here is a little piece presented there in a semi-acting style. (I am proud to say that the following terse sentences can only be written in the dearest "Hindi' and I challenge, not in any other language in the universe)

...इतने बड़े नेता और ‘ता’ गायब। उन्हें सेक्रेटरी ने बताया कि सर आपका ‘ता’ नहीं मिल रहा। आप सिर्फ ‘ने’ से काम चला रहे हैं। नेता बड़े परेशान। नेता का मतलब होता है, नेतृत्व करने की ताकत। ताकत चली गई, सिर्फ नेतृत्व रह गया। ‘ता’ के साथ ताकत गई। तालियां गईं, जो ‘ता’ के कारण बजती थीं। नेता बहुत चीखे। पर जिसका ‘ता’ चला गया, उस नेता की सुनता कौन है? खूब जांच हुई पर ‘ता’ नहीं मिला। नेता ने एक सेठ से कहा, ‘यार हमारा ‘ता’ गायब है। अपने ताले में से ‘ता’ हमें दे दो।’ सेठ बोला, ‘यह सच है कि ‘ले’ की मुझे जरूरत रहती है, क्योंकि ‘दे’ का तो काम नहीं पड़ता, मगर ताले का ‘ता’ चला जाएगा तो लेकर रखेंगे कहां? सब इनकम टैक्स वाले ले जाएंगे। कभी तालाबंदी करनी पड़ी तो? ऐसे वक्त तू तो मजदूरों का साथ देगा। मुझे ‘ता’ थोड़े -देगा।’ नेता ने सेठ को बहुत समझाया। जब तक नेता रहूंगा, मेरा ‘ता’ आपके ताले का समर्थन करेगा। आप ‘ता’ मुझे दे दें और फिर ‘ले’ आपका। लेते रहिए, मैं कुछ नहीं कहूंगा... (from a story "नेतृत्व की ताकत" by Sharad Joshi)

One-by-one story bolly-firing of humour from a catapult was what was happening there and it was  impossible for a hynotised person like me to count the stories.  I guess it was around ten.

In "Baadshaahat ka khatma" a beautiful young lady makes a blind telephonic call to a man who is a typical pauper living on footpath but have been in access of a telephone just because he has been requested by his friend to sit in the office for some days till he returns to his office. The lady has a honey-coated voice. The pauper man picking up his call loves her voice and have a lot of romantic ideas about her. The surprising fact is the beautiful lady is very much interested in the pauper man and that man there does not even aspire to get her name, address or phone number. He is always indulged in a novel some of whose last pages are torn off and missing. When asked he truly states that this phone is available only till the coming back of his friend who works in this office. Then the lady requests that he should inform just before the arrival of his friend so that she could give her name and address. It is obvious that the lady wants to keep in touch with her distant lover but this man is quite aware of his limitations. The lady informs that she will go to some place for two days and would not be able to make him a call in that period. When she comes back to her home, she decides to give her name and address to the man on telephone so that she should not miss her contact. That man on the other end picks up the call and keeps up his promise by saying that "my kingdom is now going to end" before he dies of his illness. 

The whole story was presented with the utmost poignancy and fully in acting form. The honey-tongued lady actor looked really very beautiful and young and the bearded man on the other side near the telephone was with a novel and a blanket truly giving life to the character. Amazing show!

In another story 'License' by Manto, a charming unmarried girl gets on the 'tonga' to go to  her relatives who are waiting for her a few miles away. The coachman is stung by the beauty of the girl and airs the signals of love. After some initial hesitations the girl too likes the ways of the coachman and both fell in love for each other. She forgets where to get down and goes away with the coachman. The relatives of the girl is flabbergasted and cuts off their connections with the girl. The girl marries the coachman and start living happily together. But after some days, the coachman dies of a disease. In this situation the girl (now coachman's wife) has to take care of the job of driving her 'tonga' for her livelihood. As she is young and beautiful, she never lacks passengers and people ride her tonga just to bring her closer. She notices that people are not interested in going to their destination and just enjoy sitting beside her". Some people stares on her body, some passes obscene comments. The lady bears it all for her livelihood and tries to keep herself habituated with this condition. Day by day, more and more infamy gathers on to her and she is engulfed by the most redoubtable personality in the locality. The matter reaches to the drivers association and they cancels the license of the lady's coachmanship. She meets the executive body of the association, prays to allow her to pursue her profession of tonga-driving. She begs for the mercy. On this, the executive body gives a rebuff and says abusively her to practice prostitution. As the lady does not know anything else and she had to earn for her livelihood, she really became a prostitute from the coming day. The story ends like "... and from the next day she got the license to undergo prostitution."

This story was also presented in a mix of narration and acting. Impressive show!

In another story perhaps by Harishankar Parsai, there are two friends. One friends travels to many kilometers and meets his friends frequently and keeps on his garrulous arguments. He is an epitome of turncoat. He starts putting his arguments in favour of something but just at the nick of the response  of his friends, he begins opposing it. Means, whatever his listener friends likes he will oppose it and the tendency is to such a extreme extent that the listener friend is confused whether he should approve or disprove of the idea of the speaker. It is but obvious that the listener friends has no way but to bears it all. Sometimes the speaker friends is so wild and forceful that he becomes violent on his arguments and gives a blows for favourable or unfavourable responses to him. Then a day comes when the speaker friend fails to get selected for a job. Though he had appeared for it and had answered the questions well still he is not selected because of partiality of the selectors. After failure in the recruitment-exam, the speaker friend is mentally depressed. When the listener friend comes to meet him, he expresses his support for the speaker friends and agrees with his views that the system is corrupt. Surprising he sees that the speaker and listener both have agreed on the point.

The message is that you take every issue as a debatable thing and just a matter of intellectual pleasure till the pinch of it reaches your self. Then you come to senses and understands that it is not just a matter of verbal play but really a serious matter.

In a story "Mr Moinuddin" by Sadat Hasan Manto, a socialite wife of a rich person is his darling lady. He is blind in his love to such an extent that he does not mind if she dances with other men also in parties of the clubs. He believes it is a sign of modern fashion bourgeois culture. One day, the wife says Moinuddin that she wants to divorce him and marry other richer man with whom she likes to dance in the clubs. Mr. Moinuddin feels bad but bears it and allows her to live with the other rich man but requests her to live in his house alternatively after duration of some days. This arrangement of living for some days with Mr Moinudding after many days with others would be helpful to maintain the high-status of Mr. Moinuddin in the society as he would be able to proclaim that everything is well in his conjugal life. Some days this merrymaking continues. After some days the richer person and new husband dies because of heart attack. Because of the His all wealth comes under the control of this lady now who is still known as Moinuddin's wife. Now Mr. Moinuddin rejects her and says that now he does not want to live with her even for a single day. He also gives all of his wealth including the house to his corrupt wife and leaves the house. So, now this lady has huge empire of wealth with her but not a single person who loves her or on whom she could trust.

The director Hidayat Sami has done an incredible job. The credit goes to him not just in the manner he was able to extract remarkable job from the boys and girls who are still under training, but also in the selection of these representative stories. He also showed how with very thin mass of set-properties, excellence can be brought in terms of impact on the viewers. Like in "Netritwa Ki Taakat', the whole story is just being narrated by a character and the viewers are engaged the whole way he dresses himself up as a 'Neta' and it is not a chance that the end of dressing up and the story comes at the nick of time.

The actors were Abhineet Choudhary, Nishu Aggrawal, Shivam Yadav, Krupal Raval, Dhrreti Bhatt and Aashitosh Solanki. Their performance was superb in terms of style of dialoogue delivery but in case of some of the male actors, the pronunciation and grammar were a little bit of issues which can be removed just by more and more presentations like this.

The whole show was extremely successful which is evident by the fact that no viewer could get a moment to yawn during the show notwithstanding the fact that the show was more a presentation of Hindi literature than a drama. 
Review by - Hemant Das 'him'
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(Note: The scene of the play is of "Baadshahat ka khatma" is from some other show by the some other group at a different place on a different occasion. Though here also the scene was similarly beautiful but photography was not allowed.)

Tuesday 20 December 2022

"Dil Hai Ashikana" staged by Purvabhyas at Versowa (Mumbai) on 17.12.2022

 Love, love and love

हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए - यहाँ क्लिक कीजिए

It is upon you. Either you go by the wishes of your children on their love matters or be ready to face a catastrophe.

The .story is simple. Makkhan Singh and Malai Devi are respectively from Punjab and Bihar and are happily married to each other. Their daughter Tintin studइies for MBA in a college where she has a classmate Chatkar and both are in love. Since Chatkar is not yet earning, Makkhan is not agree for the marriage of his daughter Tintin with Chatkar. Tintin's mother Malai is sympathetic towards her daughter and makes a plan so as to get Tintin's father (Makkhan) ready for this marriage. Tintin is advised by her mother to act like she has gone in psychopathic stage of deep depression. Then, she consults a drama-artist Bhawara and asks him to disguise as a wedding match-maker. The match-maker Bhanwara brings the lover Chatkar in a different make-up who tries to impress Makkhan. But Makkhan catch hold of his beard and comes to know that he is being cheated. He dares them from this marriage. Here Makkhan's wife Malai intervenes and put forth the point that if the children are not allowed to marry by their choice then they can flee away and also honor killing like situation may arise. On this, Makkhan comes to senses and gives his consent for the marriage. 

There is one more young lady Bulbul as an important cast. She is a beautiful flirtatious domestic help. Mama (brother of Malai) is a character who is hankering for the love from Bulbul and the driver-cum-manager Chirkut is already there who keeps on claiming that Bulbul is his fiancée. Bulbul does not deny this claim but keeps on love-making with all the other boys simultaneously. 

The play is a comedy full of witty dialogues, dance and romance. A wholesome entertainment is what you get. Some chirpy political comments are inserted in the script showing a tinge of ideological inclination of the writer but goes well with the fervour of humour. Producer Prairna Agarwal has herself written the script which consists of numerous frequently chainging tiny shots of scenes. Credit goes to her for keeping the script taut without any slag. Makkhan Singh (Navin Agrawal) was also the director of the play. He and Prairna (Malai Devi) have not merely acted marvelously with perfect facial expressions, body movements and dialogue delivery but also have been able to extract the max potential of the new actors out. 

While Tintin (Neetesh Yadav) has been able to establish herself as a modern diva who is a loyal to her partner too, Bulbul established herself as quite the opposite pole of it. Mama looked truly a loser in love-game and Chirkut impressed with his possessive gesticulations. And last but not the least the Bhanwara stole the hearts with his romantic gestures.

The name of the actors were Navin Agarwal, Prairna Agarwal, Ayush Rastogi, Neetesh Yadav, Akash Mishra, Ritika Vaishnav, Mayank Sharma and Ankur Shukla.

This play is like a relaxing dose for all facing a burdensome life. 

Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
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Friday 9 December 2022

"End Game" - English play staged at Versova (Mumbai) by Odyssey Art on 3.12.2022

 A hollow world of eerie pleasures
(A drama-review)

हिंदी में पढ़ने के लिए - यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 7 देखिए 

Each and every thing about this play is full of discomfort and the takeaway is "Life is a saga of absurd banality in the most grotesque form". 

Hey! I truly mean the above statement. But what is more important is that the very objective of this play was to give a feel of disgust to the viewers.  The play written by Samuel Becket and directed by Sonu Pilania belonged to the absurdity genre.

The drama-architecture reflected uneasiness and discomfort in all dimensions of the deliverables right from the sitting arrangement of the viewers, there were no chairs and you had to sit on lengthy wooden blocks. None of the four characters in the play had even traces of charm in look, gait or mannerism. No character showed any love or sympathy for each other though the servant seems to be obedient enough so as to secure his job there.

 Two characters don't have any leg, one has a crippled leg causing consistent problem in walking and on top of this the one who is the main character (you may say) is blind, crippled and his body oozing out the blood slowly as is evident from his red-stained shawl.  And the same condition prevailed throughout the play. I mean the set of discomfiture you see in the beginning is there to remain up to the very last scene and there is no scene even as a flash-back without the aforesaid discomfiture. The pet-dog which the wheel-chaired man (main character) asks to get him is in fact a stuffed toy without a leg. The mother and father of the wheel-chaired man are kept  in two separate dustbins and though after lapse of considerable time, they pop out their heads and converse to each other but are not able to kiss each other because of physical separation. The servant has an obscure sexual identity as he is seen worn with feminine attires but is in fact is a man. When the master (the wheel-chaired man) asks him to help him sit properly in a central position, the servant retorts that he is unable to touch him. Rather he moves the wheel-chair round the room so that the master may feel that he is sitting in a proper posture.

During the whole duration of the play, none came in and no one went out from the room. Nothing specific took place other than some of the hot conversation on trifle matters.

The typical display of this aversive feel was in the very outset and persisted through the end of the play. The servant is seen to move the curtain of windows. And for this which should have been the simplest job in our households, the servant had to drag a heavy wooden ladder, then fit that in operation, then climb up many steps on that and then he somehow became able to move the curtain and make the sunlight enter the room. 

Though the servant is taking care of his boss to a large extent it is explicit that he is just posing to obey him without any sort of humane attachment. The boss keeps on asking the servant why he turns up each time he whistles up to call him? The servant replies, "I don't know why?" Ultimately, on a day the servant concludes that he have had enough of it and pretends to leave the master. The master is convinced that the only supporting hand to him, the servant has deserted him for ever and throws away the whistle which he used to call the servant. It can be understood that he did not live further without the care. The servant had not left the room. And after the demise of the master and all, he keeps on living in the room alone absolutely without any interaction with anybody. His life is now a pretentiously happy life. He again opens the two windows facing a lot of difficulties and pretend to laugh. Removing the covers of the dustbins, he peeps inside of them and again pretends to laugh. If we think deeply this is strangely similar to the life nowadays people want to live - a completely hollow life bereft of humane values and feelings but seemingly a happy life.

The director Sonu Pilania has tried his best to maintain the sobriety and eeriness maintained throughout the play. The theme of absurdness is not very popular in India so it must have been a mammoth challenge for Sonu to put this well-known bizarre play on stage with full vigour of all the deliverables like set-design, acting and lighting. But he has succeeded to a large extent. Actors in the role of wheel-chaired master and the servant maintained the required tempo in their dialogue-delivery well-supported by the body-postures. The wheel-chaired actor impressed with his countenance. There was a good responsiveness between the actors playing master and the servant. The artists who played the mother and the father had to remain covered up in the dustbins most of the time. But they also impressed particularly on two occasions at least- once when the father expresses his consent to participate in the dialogue only in hope of getting sugar plumes. The other scene which remained in my memory was when the mother and father want to kiss each other and try their best from their respective dustbins but could not reach other just for a few inches.

The characters of Kanti, Maikh, Keel and Hamm were played respectively by Sunil Kr. Sharma, Abhishek Pratap Singh, Sajan Kataria and Sonu Pilania. The other artists were Sumi Baghel, Ankita, Vipin Rohilla., Awanish Sharma, Sandeep Yadav, Subhratanu Mandal and Rakhi Kashyap. The play has been written by famous French playwright Samuel Beckett and it was directed in this instance was by Sonu Pilania. The producer was Rajiv Gupta. 

This play neither does preach you anything nor shows you any direction as to how proceed in life but you yourself come to know that this is not the way we should go for. The very beauty of absurdist play is that you are exposed to such an extreme level of despair that all of problems  you are facing in your life look miniscule after that.
Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
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Pic of the same play staged by some other group abroad