Two dramatic pieces, presented by ACME Theatre this past week at the LTG auditorium featured Sanjay Gautam as a solo performer. Projecting a wide range of human emotions, Sanjay gave a gripping performance, as he concentrated on the inner qualities of his complex characters and their psychological traits. The evening also proved that after all theatre is the medium of the actor who can captivate an audience, provoke it, inspire it and move it with tender human feelings. Another important aspect of the evening was that is indicted the forces that perpetrated violence and conveyed a powerful message for world peace. At another level the opening production exposed the brute acts of violence against civil society at different points of history in the name of Dharmayuddha. The evening opened with the presentation of "Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya", which focussed on the character of Ashwatthama taken from Dharamvir Bharati's `Andha Yug'. An epic verse play, its production under the direction of E. Alkazi (1963) for National School of Drama and Satyadev Dubey for Theatre Unit, Mumbai (1962) thrilled the Indian theatre world at the discovery of a contemporary theatrical classic. Dubey revived this production in 1989, which featured at the Nehru Shatabdi Natya Samaroh. Presented in different Indian languages frequently, the verse play has been revived several times by the Repertory Company of National School of Drama.Choreographed by Raj Kumar Sharma with music by Gagan "Yada Yada Hi Dharasya" was enacted on the bare stage. Various elements of multi-media were used to create the right ambience to enhance the fury of revenge and hatred and the devastation caused by the savagery of the18-day war of Mahabharata.In fact, Ashwatthama is a most powerful and complex character reinvented by Bharati. Through this character Bharati sought to question the very basis of a war being fought in the name of truth and justice. This is a great role and a challenging one. Ashwatthama is one of the handful of survivors of the Kaurava army which was vanquished. He is full of fire to take revenge. Red with anger at the way the Pandavas resorted to deception to destroy great warriors of the Kauravas, a frenzied Ashwatthama was now out to destroy the whole universe.
Sanjay creates this highly challenging character with all its inner fire, ferociousness and brute force. In the past great Indian actors, including Nazeeruddin Shah, had played this role. Sanjay has portrayed this role in his own style which would continue to haunt the audience for long for its furiousness of a wounded brute out to destroy human life and civilisation, out of revenge.From the mythological world Sanjay transports us to the contemporary world of an ageing actor. All alone in the green room after the show is over and the audience has vacated the hall, the actor reminisces about his past performances with a sense of fulfilment, though tinged with sadness. Based on Anton Chekhov's `Swan Song' and retitled as a swan song, in this piece Sanjay displays an acting style which was remarkable for the use of laconic means of expressions, pauses and silences. Whenever this actor remembers his acting of Shakespearean characters, his voice gained new power and his portrait radiated with a sense of creative achievement in the past that thrilled his audience. A graduate from National School of Drama, Sanjay himself has directed these two pieces with care.The brochure distributed at the time of the show tends to create a kind of intellectual fog rather than providing clue to the metaphysical and contemporary connotations of the title "Yada Yada Hi Dharmasya". In the brochure it was written Yada: Yada: Hi Dharmasy: -- which is wrong.DIWAN SINGH BAJELI