DIWAN SINGH BAJELI
Parvatiya Lok Kala Manch presented an adaptation of Himanshu Joshi's novel.
Himanshu Joshi's novel "Kagaar Ki Aag" in Hindi has not only been translated into several Indian languages but also into English, Burmese, Italian, Norwegian and Mandarin. Set in a remote region of Uttarakhand, it continues to fascinate amateur dramatic groups formed by the hill people. Last year, Parvatiya Kala Kendra presented it under the direction of Lokendra Tripathi in New Delhi. This past week, another group, Parvatiya Lok Kala Manch, presented it at Gandhi Memorial auditorium, which captivated the audience with the powerful depiction of the tragic world of the protagonist .The stage version, jointly written by Hem Pant and Navin Joshi, follows the narrative pattern of the novel, faithfully incorporating its vital episodes of into a dramatic format. The Kala Manch also staged it way back 1988 in Kumaoni under the direction of the late Dinesh Pandey, a folk and stage artiste.The focal point of the production is the plight of Gomati, a young, beautiful but poor woman who suffers untold miseries inflicted by a rapacious landowner, the uncle of her husband, Pirma. The cruel uncle has encouraged him to smoke hashish, which weakens his willpower to resist his oppressor. Wicked as they are, the uncle and his criminal son are determined to make Gomati their sex slave.Despite a heroic fight against her oppressor, she is forced to leave her home, husband and little son, Kunnu and become the mistress of a rich farmer who already has twowives. But she fights back, regains her freedom and reunites with hercrippled husband and little son.The production does not try to give a call to overthrow an oppressive system but realistically depicts the slice of life of people devoid of human sentiments. It also shows how greed degenerates man. Ganga Datt and Hem Pant, who have jointly directed the play, have managed to blend sub-plots with the main narrative, using musical interludes, which also help provide the production with the required atmosphere. Mahendra Pandey's score is at its best when he gives off-stage music to the scene in which Gomati's brother-in-law leaves home for the war-front. Indeed, it is a memorable scene, exuding the pain of separation, which establishes a rapport with the audience.The directors would have been able to make a decisive impact if they had conceived more functional sets. There is no need to make a huge backdrop of scenery and two untidy structures to depict the locale for the action. Despite these flaws, the directors are able to handle their amateur performers with considerable skill.Sona Jayal, in the title role of Gomati, gives an impressive performance, revealing various emotional levels of her complex character. Amba Datt Sharma as Pirma, the demoralised and oppressed husband of Gomati, who remains mute most of the time , creates a credible image of silently suffering humanity. Ganga Datt Bhatta as the wicked uncle of Pirma, Manoj Chandola as Khushal who makes Gomati his mistress and in turn gives money to Pirma's uncle, Kunal Pant as the criminal cousin of Pirma, Krishn Sharma as the village postman and Hem Pant as Khim Ram, the conscience-keeper of the village, act admirably. Master Mayank Bhatt as Kunnu, the little son of Pirma and Gomati, who is deprived of his parent's love, moves the the audience.