Tendulkar’s “Khamosh! Adalat Jari Hai” is a complex work of art that indicts a male-dominated society.

It is an indication of Vijay Tendulkar’s popularity on the Delhi stage that the late playwright’s works are still staged frequently in the Capital. Two of his — “Jat Hi Poochho Sadhu Ki”, presented by the National School of Drama Repertory, and “Khamosh! Adalat Jari Hai” staged by SRC Repertory — mounted this past week, evoked enthusiastic response from the audience. Indu Art Theatre & Film Society at LTG will stage another play, “Baby”, this week. A comic exposure of the caste-ridden Indian society and the plight of the intermediary caste, “Jat?” is an evergreen source of laughter, though over the years intermediary caste has been able to assert itself politically, socially and economically.

Play-within-play

In terms of form and content, “Khamosh! Adalat Jari Hai” is a complex work of art. Structurally, it is a drama-within-the-drama, which reveals the agonised world of a young schoolteacher who is humiliated and insulted. Deceived by two lovers with whom she has brief but passionate affairs, she is desperate to lead a respectable life. The play indicts a male-dominated society, reflecting a feminist viewpoint. Its intricate artistry is reflected in the dialectical unity between its form and content. At another level it deals with the mask and the real face and the relationship of art to life.

The SRC production of “Khamosh?” has been directed by Avatar Sahni, a graduate from the National School of Drama with specialisation in direction in 1984. Sahni has directed a number of plays over the years. Known for his perceptive directorial art, he has directed memorable productions such as “Hayavadana”, “Vidhata Mat Khelo Ye Khel”, “Uljhan” and “Nagin Tera Vansh Bade”.

“Khamosh?” opens in a room in which performers assemble to while away the time before their show begins. Most of the performers are not successful in their real life profession. It all begins with light-hearted conversations. They decide to play mock court. Miss Benare, young schoolteacher, is charged with the crime of aborting her foetus. As the proceedings progress, prosecution witnesses are examined, startling information is revealed about the love life of Miss Benare.

The flow of dramatic action continues uninterrupted with the interplay of a light-hearted and shocking mood. The director and the cast gradually create an intensely emotional atmosphere, casting a spell on the audience. The climactic scene is a tour de force. An emotionally shaken Miss Benare stands condemned for committing a crime which the assembled persons consider unpardonable with the power to destroy the moral foundation of society. The mock situations turned out to be real. The judge and the witness take the role of conscience-keepers.

In the lead role of Miss Benare, Sunayana brings to the fore the wounded soul of her character. Her Miss Benare is in a joyful mood initially but as the secrets of her life are revealed, the mask of her playful appearance breaks down before the force of truth and the real appearance comes to light. Sunayana delivers her soliloquy in the climactic scene with heartfelt intensity. Bhoopesh Joshi as Ponkshe, a pretentious intellectual, offers another performance of quality. Atul Jassi as the judge of the mock court and Shobha as the frivolous wife of the judge act admirably.

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