Thursday 29 June 2023

"Diet Lagn" - a Marathi play staged on 25.6.2023 in Vashi (Navi Mumbai)

 The treatment of troubled marriage

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 23 देखिए )

In this era of constitutional rule, as easy as it is to get married, it is a thousand times more difficult to maintain the same.

Alok and Rhuta are well-married. Everything between them is well that is why the relationship is unwell. I mean to say whatever had been well and acceptable between man and woman within an Indian family since ancient time are not so now. The woman creed are full conscious about it's right of equality. If the woman was sitted at a cosy chair, the husband just can't displace her for himself just because he came from his office. Since he came from his office that does not mean his wife can't watch the TV program of her choice. There was a heap of petty issues on which husband and wife clashes but those clashes are so minute and delicate that the audience should be sensitised beforehand to notice them. Otherwise, there are many couples who quarrel more than Alok and Rhuta and still might have come to watch the drama together happily.

The husband thinks the wife is less caring and the wife thinks the husband is paying less attention to her. The quarrel develops and that led them to the brink of divorce. as a last resort to save their marriage they went to a Psychological Therapist who suggests the couple to go for a marriage diet for at least one month. Just as a person has to follow diet for keeping him healthy body so there is also a diet of keeping the marriage healthy. This diet comprises not of menu of food but of prescribed behaviours each of them have to follow. The nitty-gritty of those behaviours includes the bits of romantic actions that add flavour to a conjugal life. A revealing dress-sense, a  perfect dose of smile when the hubby returns home from work, a caring attitude and frequent play of love songs at home along with a perfect frequency of eat outs in pleasant restaurants enhances romance in their relationship. 

The husband too feels he had been too harsh and lays down his ego. The love rejuvenates and both want to intermingle but suddenly there comes an alert of the undemocratic clause called celibacy for at least for a month. 

In love impulses, this clause of temporal celibacy was broken. When at the end of one month, the couple meet the therapist now with a sheepish face, the therapist madam says there is nothing to worry. Restrain in genuine love must to be violeted in a conjugal life.

The story moves on in a streamline motion and never faces a turbulence. I mean if there is a quarrel between husband and wife and and the audience is getting no jerks then what sort of quarrel it is? So friends, the script with pithy dialogues does the trick here. 

The script of Manswini Lata Ravindra is vital to carry the show forward. But at the same time we must admit that the conversation between husband-wife can best be written up to half only, the rest has to comes through the accent, pause and body-language of the actors. The director Vijay Kenkre has kept the scene extremely natural purposefully. There were scenes of face-offs but none among them can be categoriesed as a full-fledged encounter.

The sterling chemistry of Rhuta (Rasika Sunil) and Alok (Siddhartha Bodker) was conspicuous even in a troubled relationship. They did good work. Vaishnavi RP as the therapist was also well. But I dare to put a candid word that it was the director who was mostly seen in the actors. The more effective way could have been as let the actors come with his/her own style and mannerism. At the same time, it is also true that, had it be done so then the main theme of remedial conjugal disharmony might have shifted to diagnosis of the relationship problem. 

The melodious instrumental music was provided by Anand Oak. The fantastic set of an upper middle-class house and a workable Psychological Clinic was designed by Pradeep Mulye and Akshar Shedge. Majid Khan was the Photographer. The play was produced by Aditya Tushar Suryawanshi and Savita Tushar Suryawanshi.

The show itself seemed to me a Counseling Therapy to viewers who are either passing through the patches of relationship management with spouses or or have to pass.

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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Sunday 18 June 2023

Sultan - a Hindi play by Darakht Theatre Co. on 17.06.2023 in Versova (Mumbai)

What is the aim of life other than dying?

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 22 देखिए )

The play looks purposeless movements of actors and you get annoyed to the brim. 

There is nothing more than mundane banality in it and you get a good dose of annoyance and irritation. 

The striking fact is that howsoever absurd it may look, this is the true replica of the life of today in everyone's own world.

As of now I have seen a number of absurdist plays in Mumbai. Almost in all of them I found: One,  nobody is caring to anybody even not to himself. Second, a pray for little favour is made by a weak person and it is willingly ignored by the influential character up to the end of the play (and perhaps after the end also if you could see). And the repulsive forces of persistent anomalies dishearten viewers but they are never distracted as they are actually watching the most authentic version of contemporary human life on global level.

The tragedy lies not in the circumstances but the fact that no one wants to get out of it. All are trapped in their banalities bereft of human values. All are together but without a bond. There is hardly an eye contact between the characters and everyone is lost in himself.  Even while Rajshekhar and Julie see each other they are seeking their own goal - carnal pleasure by one side and economic security by the other side.

Rajshekhar is a tycoon having multi-crores business of civil construction contracts. He has a pet tiger named as Sultan. The tiger is never seen on the stage but his roar is heard throughout the play as if he is talking to his master Rajshekhar. His sound sleep is broken by a phone ring in which he gets the alert that there is a shortfall of 3000 bags of cement and there are only 7000 bags. He instructs to make these 7000 bags content to that of 10000 bags. This unscrupulous act of himself is defended by himself " What the hell if the building collapses and thousands of people die. After all the ultimate aim of life is dying only and I am helping them out to achieve their goal early." Suddenly he gets a strong attack of body pain along with an unbearable headache. He shouts to call his doctor who appears and helps him out by giving a dose of morphine. The moment Rajshekhar gets some relief he lashes out on the doctor that he has been hired to get him out of drug addiction and not to serve it. 

Rajshekhar asks the doctor if he is at peace with his life which is answered in an affirmation.  On this he dials to the hospital and instructs them to discharge the wife of his attendant doctor immediately who is in the terminal stage of her cancer. After this the attendant doctor is never at peace and remains extremely restless as he know the moment his wife is discharged from the hospital she will die. Then the family priest appears with his preaching of peace and happiness ever. The motive of the priest is to get donation of Rs. 5000/- and in response to it he gets that of Rs. 10,00,000/-. The peace of the priest goes away at that moment and then after he remains in a state of ecstatic lunacy. Then comes Julie, the beloved of Rajshekhar. She is pregnant of the child of Rajshekhar and wants to marry him. For some while, Rajshekhar plays with her sweet will and then suddenly get morphine injection administered to her by the doctor. The morphine has already been served to the priest to pacify him from the economic ecstasy. The phone rings again and it is known that the doctor's wife is dead. The doctor is hot under the collar over Rajshekhar and wants to kill him. But, Rajshekhar consoles him saying that she was dead before her discharge. Then Rajshekhar himself administers morphine injection to the doctor and then he shoots his loving pet tiger Sultan. In the end he shoots himself. 

It is worthy to mention here that the cheque of Rs.10 lakh which made the priest mad was not signed.

The picture frame kept falling from the wall intermittently throughout the play.

The play originally written in Marathi language by Mahesh Elkunchwar had been presented in Hindi by Darakht Theatre Co and was directed by Lokesh Verma. The actors were Devanshi Chaudhary ( Julie), Kashish Anand (Rajshekhar), Nishant Bajaj (Doctor) and Akshay Prajapat (Priest). Valuable backstage supports were from Sound Design (Lokesh Varma), Light Design (Mohit Popli) and Production Manager (Mehak Chopra). The Design & Direction was by Lokesh Varma.

Akshay Prajapati influenced everybody with his spiritual aura and a comical madness over unbelievable economic gain. Kashish Anand was able to show the state of a man trapped in menacing maze of unhappiness. Whereas the accent of Akshay carried an air of pseudo-serene peacefulness, Kashish was also in perfect shape of full vigour of ego trampling all of his own scruples. Devanshi Chaudhary tried her best to present a tough synthesis of love and selfishness and succeeded to some extent. Nishant Bajaj displayed a good show of restlessness whose wife's last some hours of life was being snatched by the cruel master.

There was no charm, attraction or happiness in any manner in dialogue, body-movements, dress-sense or set-design that goes well with the core theme of absurdism. 

The play leads you to a cul-de-sac and seems to lose the meaning of purpose perfectly. But viewers, just see the volte-face of it. And this is where the playwright intends you to go.

A good show by Darakht Theatre Co!


Review by - Hemant Das 'Him'
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Sunday 4 June 2023

"Jaayaz Hatyaare" - Hindi play staged in Versova (Mumbai) on 03.06.2023

 The Litmus test of a just murder

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 21 देखिए )

Committing a murder is not merely a body-act but also a much much deeper psychological act. A murderer first kills his own humanity before killing someone else. Alas! He has to do it knowingly when he happens to be a part of a violent revolutionary group. See, a revolutionary group is also made up of human beings and not of robots or machines. They too have minds and hearts. Even while nurturing the strongest commitment for the broader benefit of human community the despicable means he adopts make him shivering too.

The British Rule in India was based on tyranny and injustice and murder of a British Governor is planned by the revolutionary party.

"Killing is a sin" is known to every member but all of them develop different self-defense mechanism for conserving his/her moral plinth. A jail-returned member is so battered by his past experiences with the administration that he has turned into a murder maniac like a wild animal. His only ambition is to wreck havoc through his dastardly acts for the sake of revolution. Once he asks the bomb-maker woman as how many bombs will it take to blow off the whole city.  There is also a humane member who decides to abstain completely from a direct involvement in murderous act and choses a more sober path like joining it's propaganda wing. The same is the mental state of the female revolutionary who is expert in bomb-making. Her consolation is that even though her bombs kill humans but she does not have to kill them directly. Whenever she is with her lover member she talks about her past peaceful life full of love and harmony. There is a Captain-like character who somehow keeps every member enthused about the mission of the revolution and provides logistic as well as philosophical support for committing murder. 

One thing is clear that they all are brave and honest in their purpose. They do not have any self-seeking interest in their cause. They all are ready to sacrifice their life and all the pleasures of it just for the sake of crores of their compatriots. They too have desires for happy, peaceful and loving life but they sacrifice their desires for ensuring love, peace and prosperity of their countrymen. Even the member who has abstained from participating in direct killing and joined the propaganda wing and that woman who also only makes bombs and never throws it know well that the danger is the same as that of a killer. Since if caught, they all will be hanged by the government. But it is their moral dilemma that keeps them away from becoming a direct murderer.

Even the member who chooses his role of throwing bomb on the Governor fails to do so once only because he sees two innocent kids sitting in the vehicle with the Governor. For killing the Governor he cannot kill the innocent kids also. It is only in the second attempt when he kills the Governor ensuring well that his wife or kids are not killed. 

The dilemma deepens further after the Governor is killed and the killer is jailed. There is feelings of both win and loss in the heart of the killer. He has won in his Cause but has lost on humanity.  In the jail, three characters namely Co-prisoner, Police Chief and Governor's wife meet him. The wife of the killed Governor elaborates the details of the humane side of Governor's killing and the killer is deeply repentant learning that he has killed a person who also possessed a kind heart internally. After her, the Police Chief tries to convince him that he should accept that he has repentance for murder and he believes that it is not going to help his revolutionary cause. If he does so his life would be saved. But the killer prefers himself to be hanged for two reasons - One he wants to do penance for his humane sin and secondly for saving himself from the another sin of betraying his revolution. After his execution, his lover woman  (the bomb-maker) continues the revolution further so that she should also be executed like her lover. 

This play directed by Saumya Tewari was the Hindi adaptation of the French play "The Just Assasins" by Albert Camus. Actors were Adarsh Chaudhary, Saurabh Jha, Ashish Sharma, Saumya Tewari, Arpit Sipani, Aabi Deswal, Mansi Sharma and Manish Yadav. Music input was from Saurabh Ranakoti and on Lights was Karan Singh Gahlot. 

Hindi adaptation by Suresh Bhardwaj and Deepa Sahi is so natural that it tastes like an original Hindi play. Saumya Tewari's direction was fine in the way that she has taken good output from somewhat new actors. Her dialogue-delivery lets the audience enter a deep contrast of love and revolution. The jail-returned member cast good effect as an angry man. His body-movements and force in dialogue-delivery were perfect. The Captain looked cool, composed and yet commanding as desired. The Killer was successful in bringing out the infighting of his heart to the viewers. The Governor's wife, The Co-prisoner (and also the hang-man), and Police Chief did their work well on the stage. Some of the actors kept their eyes closed while delivering the dialogues. This can be justified for soliloquies but not for all dialogues. The director may look on it. 

On the whole, the play secured it's place in the viewer's memory for it's intense content and the way it was delivered with support of good acting skills.

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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