Breaking the social myth
DIWAN SINGH BAJELI
"Kaanwar" and "Natak Naheen" capture social dichotomy in different ways.
Sagar Accomplishing Equality is an organisation that seeks to establish an egalitarian society. It considers theatre as a powerful medium to expose social evils and make people conscious about the need to change the exploitative system.
The two short plays it presented at the LTG auditorium this past week are apt to meet its objective of mirroring social dichotomy.
The members of the cast appeared competent and the director displayed imagination to conceptualise the productions. The evening would have offered rewarding experience but it turned out to be disjointed and tedious because of the poor stage management by the organisers.
The evening opened with "Kaanwar" by Laxmi Kant Vaishnav whose works belong to the genre of avant garde, creating drama out of the humdrum life of characters who are marginalised by the society. "Kaanwar" is a parody making fun of the mythological character Shrawan Kumar, who is considered the paragon of a most devoted son, dedicating his entire life to serve his blind parents. He dies in a dense forest at the hands of King Dashrath while collecting water from a gorge.
A dramatist of social protest, Vaishnav knows how to treat a mythological tale in terms of the contemporary theatre. We meet modern Shrawan Kumar, carrying his blind parents. Instead of deep attachment and devotion in the relationship between the son and the parents, what we discover is a wilyexercise between the son and parents. The modern parents are not innocent to be deeply attached to their devoted son. Whenever they get a chance they outsmart their cunning son. Through dialogue we are told that the relationship between the father and the mother is bitter. They suspect each other's fidelity. The main concern of the modern Shrawan Kumar is to quench his own thirst first, forgetting his parents. Infatuated by a scantily-dressed young girl, the modern avatar of Shrawan Kumar marries her.
The playwright indicts the society governed by market forces, debasing values essential to make a society humane. The performers manage to keep us in good humour. A dash of slapstick enhanced the comic flavour.
This was followed by Vaishnav's another play, "Natak Naheen." Mohammed Yusuf has directed both the plays.
In "Natak Naheen", the action takes place near a bus stand. Different kind of social types are presented through the eyes of two beggars. They seem to have lost their memory and have no dreams. They live in the present. The kind of life they are leading has made them coarse and rapacious. The playwright has also used them as commentator on social life in an urban milieu, exposing the deep-rooted malaise in a comic vein bordering on farce.
The setting of this play and the two tramps as beggars bring this play closer to Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot".
The two characters keep on waiting for the arrival of the mysterious Godot for redemption. In "Natak Naheen" the two beggars wait for someone who can give them money.
"Waiting for Godot" is a tragic face while the dominant mood of "Natak Naheen" is one of farce. Here the beggars' entire thought is concentrated on devising new tricks to present themselves as the most pitiful creatures to move passers-by. They seem to be enjoying themselves.
Sheetal, Ravinder, Priya, Heera and Yunus display their histrionic talent in a variety of roles despite poor stage management and inadequately rehearsed productions.
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