Magic and mayhem, surreal and hyper-real merge against the backdrop of a strife-torn Kashmir.
“The Djinns of Eidgah” by Abhishek Majumdar
F or a play that talks of the insanity of conflict and the terrible toll it extracts from the perpetrators and the victims, “The Djinns of Eidgah” has an irresistible gossamer texture that wraps itself around you, inexorably seeping into your consciousness till you, like the 14-year-old protagonist, Ashrafi, are not sure of what is real and what is not.
Bangalore-based Abhishek Majumdar's “The Djinns of Eidgah” has duality at its core — the seen and the unseen, the spoken and the unspoken, reality and fantasy, heartbreaking beauty and unimaginable brutality. Ashrafi has lost her father to the conflict and is being treated by a psychiatrist Dr. Baig, who has lost a son to the violence in the valley (he was wrapped in plastic and burnt). Two soldiers, S1 and S2, are emblematic of the dehumanisation of violence. And then there are the djinns, Hafiz-Rafiz who whisk Ashrafi into a world of make-believe where she is a princess and her father is still alive.
“There are three generations in the play,” says Abhishek. “There is Dr Baig's generation from before the Eighties, who knew of a life before the conflict, his son's generation that has a take on the situation in Kashmir and the following one. This generation cannot have a perspective on the state of affairs because they are born into it and are not aware of any other way.”
The 30-year-old alumnus of the London International School of Performing Arts has also trained under Mahesh Dattani, Adishakti Theatre Lab and Yatrik. Currently the artistic director of the Indian Ensemble, Abhishek's play “Harlesden High Street” won The Hindu MetroPlus Playwright Award in 2008. His next play, “An Arrangement of Shoes” was shortlisted for the MetroPlus Playwright Award last year and won the Toto Funds the Arts Award.
Our pictures of Kashmir are old. We think of Kashmir either as picturesque or with terrorists walking on the road. Neither is true