Wednesday 27 September 2023

"Aankh Micholi"- Hindi play staged in Bandra (Mumbai) on 24.09.2023

 'Crush' surviving the marriage

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 34  देखिए )

You often have a crush on someone who is beyond your reach. The moment you reach that person you discover it all was worthless. It's always brilliant to advocate liberalism with other's spouse but only till the point when your spouse begins dithering away from you for somebody else. 

Even a hardcore gentle person can turn a flirt wizard after watching this play.

It was exciting to behold the high-class natural comedy. I, you and all always keep two faces. One for self and the other for others. The more this is exposed, the more is humour. So, you find there is absolutely no need of absurd costumes, gaudy postures or vulgar themes for the best comedy. The best comedy is that which is meaningful and relates straight to viewer. 

Extra-marital sexual attraction is a phenomenon nobody is free from. And this play focuses on and deals it to the culmination. The drama script of C.P. Deshpandey as it was served by the director Vikas Bahari made it eminently clear that sexuality does not require vulgarity. 

An old flame of college days Ajay meets Naina at her home who is newly married to a CID offer. Naina is a sensible woman and does not fall prey to Ajay so easily but she could not resist the showering of plaudits from him. And gradually she is somehow in a mood of liking him. After all, he has been his ex-male friend (if not boyfriend). Ajay speaks highly of everything directly or remotely connected with Naina -  motif on her 'saree', colour of the walls, the sofa, the artworks, the brands she uses and everything you can imagine. He keeps praising everything about Naina along with simultaneously disapproving of everything about his wife Sandhya. For securing intimacy with Naina he blames that his wife is entangled with his collegue Vikas. Naina is a playful woman who relishes flirt but what Ajay is not knowing is that she is also wide awake about the limit. The moment Ajay begins to delineate the astrological grandeur of a mole on her face and then pleads her to show other moles on different corners of her body, Naina is alerted. Ajay is a master of seduction so instantly he changes his demand and pleads her to dance with him as they used to while in college. A full dance bite is here to enthrall the audience.

After the song played by the speaker is finished Naina goes to the kitchen for preparing coffee but Ajay was still jumping and murmuring the song when the CID officer caught him red-handed. A very witty conversation follows here between the legal and illegal claimant on the beauty of Naina. Two chirpy Hindi dialogues are given below-

"Jab do chor, alag-alag chor raston se chal kar ek hi jagah pahuchte hain to wah chor raasta nahi rah jata, highway ban jaaata hai"

"Jo log kam satark rahte hain unki grihasthi sukhad rahti hai aur mai apni grihasthi sukhad rakhna .... nahi chaahta.."

The CID officer schooled him to the brim but Ajay pleaded not guilty. So the CID officer thought an other plan.

In the next scene, when a natural brat was on of Ajay with his wife Sandhya just for nothing, the doorbell rings. Then there is Naina with her husband to be hosted by Ajay and Sandhya. Naina's husband plays every trick with Sandhya that was played with Naina at her home by Ajay. But Ajay pretends to be a 'liberado' and rather tries to enjoy his time with Naina once again. But.. but there is a trigger point at which Ajay is flabbergasted and thinks it is better to take hold of his wife rather than claiming someone else's. What is that trigger point? Go and watch the drama.

This sort of show is really a boon to the viewers. There was an extreme comedy but in perfectly natural circumstances. Every character is framed in a genuine and normal form the way we find them at our next door. The duplicity of someone's thoughts is the biggest source of humour and the playwright C.P. Deshpandey has tapped it utterly. The director Vikas Bahari has ensured that not even a single drop of it is missed. My heartful applauses to both of them.

The actor who played Ajay was just too hilarious! His mannerism can be paralleled with iconic Dev Anand with a high modicum of hilarity. In the scene of his home when Naina visits with her husband the ideological duplicity of his liberalism is brutally exposed. This nakedness of moral adventurism left everyone rolling around laughing. The laughter kept oozing out on every witty dialogue of Ajay and the CID officer. The two young and beautiful women maintained their sobriety while also kept adding to the humour from their end. So, there was a contrast of two restless men very keen to break the civil norms with the two women who were participating in the crossover after some feminine resistance. And by God's grace it all culminated on a civilized note.

Needless to mention that the CID officer and the two lady actors did brilliant jobs. The way the CID officer encircles Ajay without any concrete proof was incredible and became possible only through the perfect accent and pauses in his dialogue-delivery. He has a imposing personality which justifies his role. The gorgeous look and smile on Naina's face were very attractive and suited her role while the perplexity of Sandhya for her fondness to her colleague Vikas (who never came on-stage) was obvious. She impersonated perfectly the Indian woman who knows it well  how to bring a spoiled husband well on track. A natural beauty of her Indianness is praiseworthy.

The actors were Paritosh Tripathi, Jatin Sarna, Reena Agarwal and Priya Raina.

The excellent show must give credits to those who handled lights, sound and costumes which were faultless in the show. The set-designs of a middle-class household was also realistic.

The play was staged at St. Andrews Auditorium, Bandra (Mumbai) on 24.9.2023.

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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Tuesday 19 September 2023

"You must die"- Marathi play staged in Thane (Maharashtra) on 16.9.2023

Anyone could have but who did it?

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 33  देखिए )

There is enough 'masala' that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Each character is possessing some distinctive characteristics of a murderer. Even though the matters go unfolding with passage of each scene you remain absolutely clueless till the very end of the play. Even though there is a perfect set-up seen walking behind the murder you can't quite put your finger on someone. 

Each character is a fit person to be suspected. There is a fresh murder and so many are in the family who you may doubt. As the shot down wheel-chaired man was paraplegic and ill-mannered, why not his attractive young wife might have conspired? Why not the cunning looking caregiver could have taken the life of his master if he could not succeed in blackmailing the family? Why not the widow step-mother might have committed the crime for huge insurance money? There is enough chance that the mentally retarded gun-loving younger brother would have done this actual murder as part of his game. His caregiver Julie is also potential of cherishing ulterior motives. The stranger who intruded with an SOS request and took charge of the situation as a savior of the survivors looks like an easy target to be suspected. And in the climax, one more murder is committed to the person who is the main culprit of the earlier murder.

So, who fired upon Anurag, the first victim? Go and watch in the theatre.

The police inspector and his assistant did marvelous job. The interaction between the dominant and subordinate officials was wonderful. Whereas the Inspector was seen always looking to some material to find a clue his assistant was always up to delineating every bit of findings into his register. 

The caregiver of the murdered man looked cunning with the countenance and body-language at every other second. The responses of the step-mother through her dialogues were colliding with her facial expressions putting her more in the mess of suspicion. The wife of the murdered man looked impudent enough masquerading with her licentious lover. The surprising fact was that she herself was clueless who murdered her husband. She was taking the blame perhaps just to save her lover. And in seclusion, when the wife's lover also expressed the ignorance about the culprit, the viewers were left completely nonplussed. The stranger and the lover did justice with the characters.

The retarded brother acted well when he was seen hopping around with his toy gun. But in the later part, his gun was not toy and a real one giving goosebumps to everyone. Julie in her sensible caregiver role acted well especially in the scene when her protegee is flirting with the real gun and she was trying to control her with her cajoling tact. 

The artists who embodied the different characters were Saurabh Gokhale, Sharvari Lohkare, Sandesh Jadhav, Vineeta Date, Neha Kulkarni, Ajinkya Bhosale, Pramod Kadam, Dhanesh Potdar, Harshal Mhamunkar. 

The play is written by Neeraj Shirwaikar and the director was Vijay Kenkade. Ashok Patki was the musician and lighting design was by Sheetal Talpade. Costumes were by Mangal Kenkare and Stage design was by Rajesh Parab. 

The playwright has set his script in a typical movie style but has carried up the plot justifiably till the very end. Vijay Kenkare is a virtuoso of suspense thriller and has again done it with consummate aplomb.

The duo of the Director and Playwright of this play has proved their amazing capability of keeping the viewers all agog from the first to the last scene notwithstanding the plot might be moving on a hackneyed track. I was satisfied with the thrills I got.

Review by- hemant Das 'Him'
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Thursday 14 September 2023

"Okk hay ekdam"- Marathi play staged in Vashi (Navi Mumbai) on 10.9.2023

 A musical grouse in Corona backdrop

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 32  देखिए )

It was surely a hefty bunch of sweet melody and fantabulous dance bites well threaded to a Corona tale. 

Frankly telling, because of its pristine folk form of style and language, I could never get a hold of it and the play remained all Greek to me till the last point. AIl of my attempts of getting core of it fell flat. But I enjoyed the show as any other person will.

The issues raised were in the backdrop of  incessant spells of lockdowns in the Corona period. It took a heavy toll of life and amenities of daily wage earners including the 89 members of a 'tamasha' (a folk drama) group.  Through this play, they tried to show the true picture of adversity faced by the artists and how their attempt of getting help from the authority failed. 'Online' was the rage of the era. Every activity like marketing, dining, play, gossips, education and love, all had incarnated themselves in their 'online' avatara, why not 'tamasha' should also follow suit.

So a videographer was hired and a thrilling performance of 'tamasha' incorporating all essentials like music, song, acting dance and action was recorded for broadcast. The authority listened to their grievances and perhaps tried a help but there were many limitations. Many people died of Corona and some of them were perhaps related to this 'tamasha' group also.

The whole composition was a treat of dance, music and singing with a delicious splash of super-charged acting. The choreography was riveting and the whole atmosphere was charged up with excitement after the chorographical presentations . The front of the stage was resplendent with two towering pictures of  revered goddesses Laxmi and Saraswati.

In the whole play the word 'Vishwaguru' was uttered frequently. Though I could not transpire the actual context but I think it might have been used satirically. Also, on many occasions I found especially in the second half of the play, the actors were frequently sneezing as a part of acting perhaps to recreate the Corona ambience.

The play was jointly written by  Sudhakar Pote and Ganesh Pandit. The concept and research was by Savitri Meghatul and the director was Ganesh Pandit. The artists who acted in it were Savitri Medhatul, Vaibhav Satpute, Sudhakar Pote, Seema Pote, Panchu Gaikwad, Vinod Awasarikar, Vikram Sonavne, Abhijit Jadav, Pradnya Pote, Bhalchnadra Pote and Chandrakant Barsinghe.

All viewers can relish in song, dance and action of this play though for those who are well-versed in Marathi can enjoy it to the most.

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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Thursday 7 September 2023

"Laadki" - Gujarati play staged in Chawpatty (Mumbai) on 3.9.2023

 A daughter in father's lap

( हिंदी में समीक्षा के लिए -   यहाँ क्लिक करके क्रम सं. 31  देखिए )

The surgeon knows well that the probability is much less than perhaps 0.01% but a father is confident that his daughter will emerge from the surgery alive and completely healthy. A surgeon is a surgeon and a father is a father but alas! Both are the same person in this case. 

Never get confused with what is conspicuous in the script. Try also to read what is not written. See also what is not shown. And I tell you what is that. God is just another name of love. He has different forms for different persons. And for a loving doctor-father his patient-daughter is God. Saving her life is the biggest worship he can do. It is his staunch belief that his God can never die notwithstanding what the statistical probability is. He rejects to participate in religious rituals because he believes that there is no such hopeless case in his daughter's treatment that one should pray Almighty. He is the best surgeon in the world with 100% success track record and so his surgical treatment must work in the case of his daughter too.

A world-renowned surgeon has a very playful daughter whom he loves too much. He has amassed a good wealth which he wants to spend in his daughter's marriage. This news comes to a mafia and the extortion game turns bloody in which the daughter suffers bullets hits from her back. The bullet is at a very sensitive point on the spinal cord and as the medical team believes even if it is removed she would not survive the complications out of it. The daughter knows the futility of her treatment and pressurises her father to discharge from the hospital. The father knows that a patient who is already on various kinds of medical support in the hospital would not survive long after the discharge. So he denies to discharge even to the utmost chagrin to the daughter. On this the daughter files a case through her boyfriend and the court sentences in her favour.

Just the  moment the daughter comes in the house her father begins to beg to her to accept the forthcoming surgery so that the attempt to save her life should be made in full sense. But the daughter knows it is futile and she is going to die soon anyway either after or without surgery. So she decides not to undergo surgery. But the father is adamant. Seeing the father's sentiments, the daughter agrees for the surgery but before that she requests her boyfriend to marry her so that her father's duty is fulfilled on this vital social obligation. The wheel-chaired daughter wears red 'chunari' for marriage and the boyfriend puts vermillion on her forehead. She asks where is her darling father who wants her go get the surgery. Her mom and other say that he is the operation theatre and is waiting for her from there. On this, she allows her to be taken to the operation theatre. Just after her departure from the house, her father is seen sneaking out of his bedroom and wading through with heavy steps towards the operation theatre. Actually he wanted to ensure that the daughter has given the consent for the surgical operation. After all, it was going to be perhaps a journey to, God knows life or death. 

After the surgery, the scene becomes too poignant. Many inattentive viewers would again see what is shown. But the context is totally different. What is being shown is not intended to be taken on its optics value. The scene shown was that the surgeon-father is beseeching his wheel-chaired daughter to stand on her feet, come to his lap and let him fondle her as he used to do in her early childhood. It is also shown that there happens a trembling in her whole body and slowly she becomes normal and actually wobbles her way to the lap of her father. The moment she reaches there, her father dies. This scene is symbolic. Actually a discerning viewer might have seen that the father's love to his daughter remained alive and became healthier but his confidence that love can change impossible to possible dies.

Among the hundreds of plays watched by me in the last nine-ten years this was one which moved me from within and left absolutely helpless in keeping myself composed. The show was a live testimony of the fact that drama is the strongest medium of conveying a feeling. In the last scene, the way the protagonist called on his daughter to come to his lap was not an acting but like an exudence of a soulful poem into action. I bow to the excellence of this exceptionally talented actor! This pithy scene was elaborate and in fact,  incorporated all the essentials of the play. And it all was nothing but the sheer, unbound, selfless love of a father to his daughter.

This play shows a fight of a father to a surgeon, a fight of feelings to facts. A human life is not like a car which runs simply on petrol. A human life is wait, excitement, pain and danger of a journey.  This  goes much beyond the maps, itineraries and fuel. If you feel it you live otherwise you are just spending your days. 

A legal buff will find the script vulnerable on many counts of ethical and human right issues. After all, what a father-cum-doctor was doing? He was forcefully trying to keep the patient within the hospital against her will. And the pressure was so hard that the patient had to seek the judicial remedy. Even after she was lucky enough to get a judicial favour and so discharged from the hospital, the pressure was again mounted on her for undergoing a surgical operation which she absolutely hated.

But the stunning aspect of the wrangle was that the love between father and daughter was not diminishing and still got growing even in midst of their confrontational stances. The father and daughter both knew that she is going to die soon anyway without a regard to whether she is kept in the hospital or she undergoes the surgical treatment. The daughter wanted to enjoy the normal love and pleasures in her last days but the feelings of a father-surgeon was not giving way. His optimism was alive till his daughter was and so he was not ready to let any stone unturned in making his daughter cured. Even if the chances of success was too meagre he wanted to take because of his staunch optimism towards his daughter. 

Though the playwright has tried his best to come out scot-free on ethical ground and has perhaps succeeded in getting a narrow escape. This is because the doctor-father went to the operation theatre only after ensuring the consent of his daughter. But again, whether the question is not here as she might have given consent under emotional duress of her father? Whether she did not know that she was going to die instantly and whether that was not the reason she married her boyfriend before the surgery so that the father should be freed from the guilt-feeling that he could not marry off his daughter.

I find no words to express the excellence of the playwright's work. Such a masterpiece in a regional language is simply a boon for the whole humankind.  The name of playwright is Vilopan Desai and the director of the show was Dharmesh Vyas. The artists who acted were Pratap Sachdev, Gazal Rai, Hitesh Upadhyay, Sharad Sharma, Sanjivani Sathe and Rajkamal Deshpande.

Full credit goes to the playwright and the protagonist of the play. The direction was powerful which kept the viewers engaged throughout the play and let them feel it like the real life story in their neighborhood. The sombre outlook of the play was successfully tuned down to the normal, time to time with the natural comedy scenes of the nurse in the hospital and the uncle in the house. I have already mentioned about the acting of the protagonist in the sixth para above. Had the  daughter not matched her father in delivery of her acting skills it would not have been possible for the protagonist (doctor) to take the play to the new skies of emotions. Her acting was actually more challenging because she had to remain bed-ridden for most of the time. But the director made her bed half-risen from the back side which allowed the viewers to make an eye-contact with the vital character of the play. Other actors who acted as the patient's boyfriend, mother, uncle, aunt, don and goons also did their stints in a meaningful manner. 

This play will lie in the memory of the viewers like a cherished memory for lifetime. 

Review by- Hemant Das 'Him'
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