Tripurari Sharma's "Poshak" mounted this past week has come as a shot in the arm for the NSD Repertory that is on the road to recovering its past glory.
This past month we had mentioned in these columns that Bahrul Islam's presentation of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" had to an extent helped the NSD Repertory recover its health. And now, in its convalescence, comes the much needed dose of vitamins in the play titled "Poshak" written and directed by Tripurari Sharma, who is at present working as an associate professor at the National School of Drama and has directed some very good plays like "Bahu", "Kath Ki Gari", "Aks Paheli", and many more. Tripurari says "Poshak" was written more than 10 years ago for Alarippu, a small theatre group in Delhi, but somehow it remained mostly as an in-house activity. Talking, about the play she adds: "When I wrote the play I was very much with the generation of the seventies that was questioning the social system of that time but did nothing to make it better." In a nutshell, this sums up what "Poshak" is about. The story is built around Kanti who is caught between his mother's expectations and his own passion for music. His friend Asmita understands his struggle between the two extremes but at the same time feels that music cannot be his career. Kanti with his friend Nitin, son of a rich businessman, plans to set up an orchestra, but somehow the idea does not take off. Roshan Lal, an activist, sees in Kanti a possible comrade for the "cause" and so Kanti now has a political platform and is drawn into the movement and gradually drifts away from Asmita and music, while Nitin tries to get closer to Asmita saying that Kanti will never return to his old life. As time passes Kanti feels disillusioned and parts company with Roshan Lal for good and tries to get back to Asmita and his music. But it is too late. In utter despair he loses his sanity and one day kills his friend Nitin. With Roshan Lal's help he evades the police; Asmita is very disappointed in him and tries to make him confess his crime. As the curtain comes down we find Kanti lost in himself and perhaps happy in his loneliness.
One may or may not accept the end as conceived by the playwright, but one has to concede that her overall production design is indeed innovative and the set design is conceived more as a play of boxes, of personalities, relationships and environment. Robin Das, who designed the set, gave Tripurari's idea a concrete shape through a number of boxes on casters that could be easily rolled to different locations. The movement of the boxes had a flow that reflected the turmoil and inner restlessness of the characters.The cast as a whole played well and amongst them the Mother (Nasreen Ishaque), her son Kanti (Teekam Joshi) and Asmita (Nidhi Mishra) were outstanding. Incidentally, this critic has been closely watching the progress of these three players right from their NSD days and had reason to believe then that they were indeed promising. But after a year or so of their joining the Repertory, began their slip down the ladder and it is only in "Poshak" that they have come back to their own. Why? What was responsible not only for their slide but also that of the Repertory in the last eight to 10 years? We have no answer as such but surely for the sake of the theatre movement as a whole it is for the NSD to look into the matter and to have a complete overhaul, if necessary, of the Repertory.