Theatre

Inspiring tales

Coming of age: A scene from “Sarai Ki Malkin   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The 30th Urdu Drama Festival that was presented by Urdu Academy, Delhi, at Shri Ram Centre ended with the staging of “Mouqa Achchha Hai” recently. Six plays featured at the festival explored a variety of themes ranging from comic exposure of misogyny to Freudian dreams and from the mass upsurge against brutal oppression by the British imperialism to multiple shades of romantic longings. These dramas were staged in a jam-packed hall which augurs a bright future for the development of Urdu dramatic art.

Written by Iqbal Firdausi and directed by M. Ramish, “Mauqa Achchha Hai” is a domestic comedy which keeps the audience in good humour. The comedy centres around the head of a dysfunctional family, who is by profession a physician and boasts to be a popular poet at poetic symposiums but he is a failure on both the fronts. Because of his failure, his wife constantly nags him. The family has a domestic help who is good-for-nothing and the continuity of his job solely depends on informing the weak points of the head of the family to his wife which provides fodder for fierce tug-of-war between the wife and the husband, resulting in the capitulation of the husband.

The real source of humour is the encounter between the family's domestic help and the vivacious washer girl and the encounter between the domestic help and a half-witted girl, a relative of the family, who enjoys riding on the back of the helper. Towards the end, a poetic soiree is organised at the house of the physician which is full of fun as the riff-raff of the locality masquerading as poet participates in the musharira. Dolly as the young washer girl and Subban as the half-witted girl are eminently comic.

Famous Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni's play “Mistress of the Inn” adapted in Urdu as “Sarai Ki Malkin” by Ranbir Singh is a best loved comedy which is frequently staged on the Delhi stage. To the delight of the audience, the comedy was featured at the festival under the direction of Chander Shekhar Sharma who has now come of age as a mature theatre director.

Proud misogynist

Set in the inn, we meet characters who boast of blue blood with rich heritage. One of the guests at the inn is Khan Saheb. He is arrogantly proud of being a misogynist. While all the guests vying for the attention of the charming; and lively owner of the inn, Mehrunisa, by offering her costly gifts , Khan Saheb keeps her at a distance with disdain. The owner of the inn brings him to his knees by pretending to be passionately in love with him. Her helper, who loves her from the bottom of his heart, is jealous and hurt to see the owner flirting with the Khan.

The play satirises the hypocrisy of feudal aristocracy and exposes Khan, who begs the owner of the inn to marry him but she snubs him, expressing her love for her helper who is an honest worker and faithful to her.

It is aptly designed providing exit and entry with remarkable fluidity. The director has effectively exploited comic situations. The slapsticks and stylised delivery of dialogue offer the audience hilariously funny moments. Prerna Rawat as the mistress of the inn creates her interactions with the guests as a source of light-hearted amusement. Her mistress is intelligent, realistic, down to earth and remains faithful to her childhood friend, her helper, Faizu. Surender Sharma as Faizu is impressive enough to leave his impact on the audience as a true lover.

Javed Sameer is better known as an actor. His direction of Anis Azmi's Jallianwala Bagh is disjointed and loud. The play reflects the collective resolve of the masses to defy the brutal laws to enslave the Indian people by British imperialism. The massacre perpetrated by the British Indian army under the command of tyrant Reginald Dyer is the most horrifying. The abrupt changes of sequences and properties create clutter, weakening the impact of the production.

“Ek Ticket Rampura Phool”

“Ek Ticket Rampura Phool”  

Jointly directed by Savita Sharma and Kajal Suri, three dramatised stories reveal various facets of love, providing sweet-bitter experiences of the characters. The first adapted version is the story by Prem Gorki titled “ Ek Ticket Rampura Phool” which deals with the torturous and humiliating journey of a woman to unite with her beloved. Forced to marry against her will, raped by her brother-in-law, tormented by her husband to remain silent for the sake of family honour, in protest she leaves her husband to live with her lover who continues to suffer pains of unrequited love. The other production is based on Ismat Chugtai's story “Banney”. It is a light-hearted love story of young and innocent people. The characters are charming and full of life. Towards the end, we are touched with the fulfilment of true and innocent love.

Savita Sharma's “Diwali Ki Vo Raat” featuring professionally trained and experienced performers like Bhupesh Joshi as Vishwanath, Daksha Sharma as the wife of Vishwanath and Sushila Vernekar as the eternally suppressed mother, the production explores the past relations of the characters with a promise to live a life of mutual understanding after confession.

Written by Zahida Zaidi and directed by Fahad Khan, “Doosra Kamra” is a complex play that deals with illusion and reality that the characters straddle. Suraj and his wife Sonia are both working couple and have no children. Sonia blames Suraj's sexuality for the couple having no children. One evening Sonia's friend Shabana, an unmarried woman in her thirties, comes to her house in a frenzied state of mind while confronting horrifying illusionary state of mind caused by Freudian psychic complication.

The production is neat, evoking a sense of fear and suspense. Ashish Sharma as Suraj, Dharana Chauhan as the wife of Suraj at logger-bead with her husband and Priyanka Sharma as Shabana haunted by nightmares impress the audience with their brilliant performances.


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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 6:32:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/inspiring-tales/article25679033.ece

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