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The timeless wisdom of a donkey's tale

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NO FOOLISHNESS A scene from the play
NO FOOLISHNESS A scene from the play "Gadhe Ki Wapsi"

ROMESH CHANDER

The "Donkey" is back and how! Read on to know about "Gadhe Ki Wapsi", full of humour and subtle barbs on society.

The late Krishan Chander (1914-1977), was a prolific writer. He wrote over 20 novels, 30 collections of short stories and scores of radio plays in Urdu and later, after Partition of the country, took to writing in Hindi. Though his script changed, the language by and large remained Hindustani. Take for instance his first novel in the Donkey Trilogy that was first published as "Gadhe Ke Surguzasht" and later became "Ek Gadhe Ki Atma Katha". Krishan Chander's novels, we are told, have been translated into 16 Indian languages and some foreign languages. Incidentally many of Krishan Chander's novels are a rich material for dramatisation, but, as far as this critic can remember, only two of his works have so far been turned into plays - "Ek Gadhe Ke Atma Katha" that premiered this past August in Delhi in Mushtaq Kak's direction and now "Gad he Ke Wapsi".This Donkey was something very important for Krishan Chander and perhaps that is why he wrote three novels about him. His Donkey is human and suffers like you and me and while telling his story the author caricatures different aspects of soc iety that we live in. The Gadha talks of his experience with bureaucrats, the businessmen, ministers and their vote banks, artists, musicians and society women. Our protagonist, the Donkey, even meets Jawahar Lal Nehru. His "Atma Katha" indeed is one of the most meaningful comedies that we have seen on the Delhi stage.

His return

And now the second of the Donkey trilogy, "Gadhe Ki Wapsi" that was on the boards this p ast week, is once against dramatised by Anoop Trivedi and directed by Mushtaq Kak for SRC Repertory, and is again set to score the bull's eye, even if the production as it stands today needs a second look as far as the editing is concerned.If in his firs t visit to Delhi our protagonist met the Prime Minister, a rich businessmen and his beautiful daughter with whom he fell in love and now in his "Wapsi", Krishna Chander takes him to yet another metropolitan city - Bombay before it became Mumbai - w here he shakes hands with smugglers, runs in a horse race, becomes a producer and needless to say falls in love with a film star. A beautiful story intelligently dramatised and sensibly directed by Mushtaq Kak.Mushtaq has now been with SRC Repertory for about six years and looking back at his work and training of actors, the SRC Repertory today stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best Repertories in the country.The cast as a whole plays well and some amongst them like Shrikant Bhupesh Joshi, A mrish Saxena, Nishant Mishra, Diksha Thakur stand out and amongst the fresh hands Sanjay Singh and Sonu (even if his Seth was cliched) hold much promise. And of course music by Gangan Singh Bais is indeed a great asset to the director to help create the mood and provide depth to some of the scene.The playwright Anoop Trivedi excels in more than one area of dramaturgy and in "Gadhe Ki Wapsi" he has captured well Krishan Chander's humour and his subtle barbs on society but in Mushtaq's presentation some o f the comic scenes are unfortunately pulled on a little too long with the result the scene loses its strength and the action often turns repetitive and the pace begins to drag. What Mushtaq needs is a sharp pair of scissors to bring home the point better .


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