Theatre

“Kusur” deals with prejudice

Suspense drama: Amol Palekar in “Kusur”

Suspense drama: Amol Palekar in “Kusur”  

A deep social message and an intense performance make Amol Palekar’s “Kusur” an absorbing experience

On the surface, “Kusur” (The Mistake) gives the impression of a thriller, but as it unravels it opens a window to state violence and deeply disturbing communal prejudice in public psyche. A sense of moral guilt permeates the production. There is no preaching tone or violent dramatic clash on the stage. A whole gamut of human emotions and psychological complexities are depicted with utmost restraint.

Based on Danish film “Den Skyldige”, the adapted version in Hindi is written by Sandhya Gokhale, who has also co-directed the play with Amol Palekar. Structurally, the play is taut with economy of dialogue. There is unity of place. The entire action takes place inside the control room of a police station in a metropolis. There is also unity of action which takes place in the night and ends within a few hours. A significant aspect of the production is the innovative use of a number of telephones which projects the sense of locales outside the control room through the distressed voices requesting police assistance.

The loud and clear voices are interspersed with some incoherent utterances of an alcoholic and bewildered voices of men lost in the vast concrete urban jungle on a rainy night. The persistently poignant voice of a mother in apparent danger to her life occupies the sole attention of the retired assistant police commissioner Ashok Dandvate (Palekar) who has volunteered his services at a police control room. It appears that the woman is the mother of two children who is being taken away by force by her husband in a car. There is the voice of a lonely kid in the grip of panic, desperately talking about his little sister in the next room. He is forbidden from entering that room.

Socially conscious

Palekar is one of our most sensitive and socially conscious theatre and film director and actor. Though there is little interaction of performers on the stage, the main character keeps on moving from one space to another, attending telephone calls, one after the another, with alacrity, giving instructions to another police station to take urgent action to provide relief to the person in distress. These voices betraying fear and danger to life create a tense emotional atmosphere on stage, with a layer of suspense.

Little Bunty's terrifying conversation with his mother and Bunty's telephonic conversation with the retired police officer are deeply disturbing, exploring the relationship between, the mother, father, Bunty and his little sister. The revelation jolts the conscience of Dandvate and opens before him a new perspective on good intentions, truth and justice.

There is another layer to the plot – the utter public apathy of the people towards soldiers after retirement. There is another element that forms the backdrop to the action. It relates to a case of murder against the official which he thinks he committed with the right intention. All these threads are neatly woven and lead to an implosive climax.

Sound design by Mandar Kamalapulkar produces the right effect. Gokhale's set design creates a realistic ambience for a police control room located in the midst of skyscrapers.

Palekar as the retired assistant police commissioner acts with restraint, evolving his own pace and rhythm to reveal the inner turmoil of his character with intense dramatic force.

The play opened the ongoing 21st Bharat Rang Mahotsav and was staged at the Kamani Auditorium.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 7:17:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/kusur-deals-with-prejudice/article30751037.ece

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