“Ye Hai Dilli Meri Jaan” portrays a heartless Delhi.
Established in 1996 under the direction of young theatre activist Yaseen Khan, Indu Art Theatre and Film Society is one of the few amateur theatre groups in the Capital engaged in regular theatrical activities. Over the years, it has produced works by eminent Indian and foreign playwrights. Economically self-reliant, it is one of the few groups which have taken upon themselves to do theatre as a fulltime vocation. As it depends on box office collections, of late the group is mostly doing comedies which attract a large audience. Its latest production, “Ye Hai Dilli Meri Jaan”, presented at LTG auditorium this past week, is a relaxing piece of theatre.
Written by Yaseen Khan, the play is a comic exposure of the seamy side of life in Delhi through the character of a bumpkin who comes to the city for the first time from a remote village. He is sent by his grandfather, a freedom fighter, to present a memorandum to the President of India. There are two factors that have comic potential. First, the bumpkin considers himself smart. Even when he is cheated by the small time swindlers, he happily thinks he has cheated them. Secondly, the comic characters are recognisable and the slice of life on the pavements and lawns of the Capital is treated in truthful colours which are a source of humour.
His name is Bhola, the innocent one. We watch his encounters with different people through the eyes of a journalist exploring the existence of innocence in the midst of a metropolis marred by the mad rush for materialism. He discovers that innocence in Bhola but to his dismay, Bhola loses that precious commodity after confronting one ordeal after another.
Ignorant of the ways of people in Delhi, he is first cheated by a scooter driver. Instead of dropping him at his destination, India Gate, the driver leaves him at Mandi House and not only overcharges him but also decamps with his money. Bhola goes on walking from Mandi House to Connaught Place in search of India Gate.
The playwright exploits the elements of mistaken identity and the comedy of policeman. A beat constable frequently crosses paths with him and acts in a manner that makes policeman seem ridiculous. Similarly, there are two detectives engaged to unearth a terrorist plot whose clumsy manners evoke laughter.Loose ends
At long last Bhola gets the opportunity to salute Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate. Here too he has a misadventure. Though there are various sequences loosely joined, the playwright is successful in keeping his audience amused.
The comedy, directed by Madhumeeta Khan, is a near production. She has handled erotic sequences with restraint, though at times Bhola’s gestures tend to become bawdy. Though Akhilesh, in title role of Bhola, gives a convincing performance. Poonit as the policeman, Neeraj as the Chholewaala, Avi as Seth Dhani Ram and Anmol as Neta Lallu Lal act with comic verve.DIWAN SINGH BAJELI