Theatre

Tales of human suffering

Poignant moment: A scene from “Kreeta” Special Arrangement

Poignant moment: A scene from “Kreeta” Special Arrangement  

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Dealing with diverse subjects, four socially relevant plays at the “Mohan Rakesh Natya Samaroh” evoked tremendous response

As a part of its pioneering endeavour to search for meaningful original plays in Hindi through competition and staging the selected ones, Sahitya Kala Parishad (SKP), Delhi, organised “Mohan Rakesh Samman Evam Natya Samaroh” at Kamani Auditorium recently. It evoked tremendous response from the audience and theatre practitioners. Over the years, Hindi plays like Swadesh Deepak’s “Court Martial”, “Komal Gondhar” by Shanker Shesh, “Taj Mahal Ka Tender” by Ajay Shukla and “Tumhara Vincent” by Satyabrata Rout have been discovered through this process.

This year’s plays “Kreeta”, “Chhaya Hindol”. “Ant Se Arambh” and “Chauthi Cigarette” were awarded first, second, third and consolation prizes respectively out of 65 scripts received.

Written by Ras Bihari Dutt, “Chhaya Hindol” was the concluding play of the festival which depicts the sufferings of lovers who are not able to marry when they were young and are able to meet when they have reached autumnal stage of their life. The play is directed by Bharti Sharma who has imparted poetic sensibility to a straightforward narrative. A young charming lady singer falls in love with her sincere and devoted admirer who is a teacher. The singer expresses her inability to marry the teacher because she cannot leave her mother alone in her old age. Suffering from the unrequited love, they depart from one another.

The director has designed her production aptly that makes shifting of action to different locales smooth. However, the production could not capture the warmth and passion of young couple in love as well as the melancholic charm of autumnal love. The noteworthy performances among the large cast is given by Lovely Kumari as the compulsive nagging wife of a police personnel. Anurag Thakur as the policeman, who faces his wife with a sportsman like spirit displays, effectively the traits of a policeman.

“Kreeta”, written by Dr. Sanjeev Kumar and directed by Sanjay Upadhyay, indicts the Devdasi system which was outlawed in 1988. However, it continues to exist in different forms because of poverty and obscurantism in some parts of the country. The play opens on a tense note with a poor father dedicating his minor daughter to a temple and in turn receiving money to enable him to look after his family. Elaborate rituals are performed to initiate the girl into Devdasi system with the head priest telling the father in stern voice that the girl's relationship with the family stands severed. The girl has to serve god throughout her life and she is now just a Kreeta. This is a powerful scene. But instead of acquiring more intensity, the conflict starts getting dissipated gradually.

Contrived resolution

After the girl is trained as a dancer and in the elaborate rituals to worship idols, she is forced into the chamber of the head priest where the most sordid and inhuman act of rape takes place. Subsequently, she will be condemned to lead a life of a sex slave. Instead of deepening of the crisis, the narrative moves towards the resolution of the dramatic crisis. The climactic scene tends to be contrived.

Director Sanjay Upadhyay has edited the script to reduce its playing time. The playwright should have provided depth to the confrontation between the alliance formed by Devdasi and the retired soldiers and the head priest. The sets are designed in a way to create the illusion of pillars in a temple which overshadowed the presence of performers on the stage. Susheel Sharma as the head priest gives an outstanding performance. Priyanka Sharma, who is offered to the temple as a Devdasi effectively, projects two facets of her character-as the little innocent girl and the tormented rape victim and fighter against injustice.

Directed by Dr. Abhilash Pillai, a senior faculty member of National School of Drama, and written by Ravi Kant Mishr, “Ant Se Aarambh” is remarkable for its directorial brilliance and its contemporary relevance. The director has conceptualised his production that captures the milieu in which tribal people live against the backdrop of forest. The focus of the production is on the struggle of tribal people to protect their Jal, Jungle and Zamin – water, forest and land – from the rapacious business class of the plains.

Tales of human suffering

The playwright has examined the main characters from Mohan Rakesh’s celebrated play “Ashad Ka Ek Din” in the contemporary socio-economic context.

The acting style is a blend of realism and stylisation. The actors use their bodies to create complex and intricate images to reflect complex psyche of the characters caught in the web of social antagonism. The subtle handling of lighting by Himanshu Joshi deepens the meaning of visual imagery. Mahesh Saini as Manav Das, Barnali Bora as Mohini and Sajida as Agni give brilliant performances.

“Chauthi Cigarette”, written by Yogesh Tripathy and directed by Dr. Danish Iqbal, deals with the confrontation between a writer who is facing utter adversity and a successful business man. The writer wants to be rich and the businessman is desperate to be acknowledged as a great writer. Both have college days memories, bitter, sweet, to share.

The playwright skilfully creates tension between the two main characters. The rich man buys the manuscript of the writer and gets them published by an internationally repute publication. Both achieve their ambitions but both struggle with their conscience as happiness betrays them. Dr. Iqbal’s production is neat and taut. Sunder Lal Chhabra as writer, Vipin Bhardwaj as the rich man and Nandini Bannerjee as the wife of poor writer give riveting performances.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 1:34:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/tales-of-human-suffering/article30040857.ece

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