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MAKING IT BIG Balakrishna: ‘Many people in their 20s and 30s have been able to relate to the play ’
MAKING IT BIG Balakrishna: ‘Many people in their 20s and 30s have been able to relate to the play ’

Rajeev Naik’s What is to be done with Sathe? will be staged today

Intellectual envy, frustrated ambition and the common person’s rage against mediocrity — these are the themes that inform “What is to be done with Sathe?”, translated by Shanta Gokhale from noted Marathi playwright Rajeev Naik’s “Sathecha Kai Karaicha”.

The play delves into the haunted psyche of Abhay, an ad film-maker who yearns to be rewarded and recognised for his documentary films. His thirst for recognition is thwarted only by his own mediocrity, and his inability to accept this, forms the central conflict.

Abhay’s thirst for awards and recognition — “stardom” of a kind — leads him down a path of futility and self-destruction. His wife Salma is both counterpoint and conscience. “She is the voice of reason,” explains director Balakrishna. “She keeps telling Abhay to do what he is good at, which is making ad films, and to relax and live life. But he is unable to accept this.”

The eponymous “Sathe” is never actually seen in the play, but is referred to continuously as the object of Abhay’s envy and loathing. An award-winning filmmaker, Sathe embodies Abhay’s frustrated desires and is the repository of his vitriol. It is through this narrative device that the scale and intensity of Abhay’s discontent is expressed.

With its depiction of the angst of today’s generation of yuppies and upstarts, all wanting to “make it big”, the play has been called a modern classic. “Abhay is a very insecure person and these insecurities have been fed by the social demands of today’s society, which define you as either a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’,” Balakrishna points out.

“Many people in their 20s and 30s have been able to relate to the play, especially people in the IT industry who work hard all the time and seldom relax. The play’s shows have evoked debates around Abhay’s predicament and the unsavoury solution he contemplates.”

The play rests heavily on the interaction between the two protagonists, and its contemporary setting and simple. Only two percent of the original play’s meaning has been lost in translation, according to Balakrishna. The focus is often the couple’s bedroom or Abhay’s workspace. “All the actions take place in a very tight frame. It is like overhearing a couple’s conversations.”

In the end, the play offers no pithy answers. Although it seems easy enough for Abhay to break the cycle of desperate striving, he is trapped in his own refrain: “I’m going to do exactly what I please, exactly the way I want to. Sathe’s film will never be screened in the Panorama. I’m going to be the boss.”

“What is to be done with Sathe?” will be performed at Ranga Shankara on July 20, 21 and 22 at 7.30 p.m. with a matinee show at 3.30 pm on Sunday. For telebooking, contact Anil on 98456-02265 or Nikhil on 99868-63615.

ANINDITA SENGUPTA

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