Theatre

'Jaani Chor' review: Vivid colours of humanity

EARTHY FLAVOUR A scene from “Jaani Chor”

EARTHY FLAVOUR A scene from “Jaani Chor”   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

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Marked by mature performances, “Jaani Chor” and “Jaana Tha Roshanpura” kept the audience engaged at the ongoing Theatre Olympics in New Delhi

The play “Jaani Chor” in swang style, which was presented by Swang – A Folk Art Academy, Hisar in Haryanvi at the ongoing 8th Theatre Olympics at the lawns of National School of Drama was remarkable for earthy vitality, fun, wit and vivid colours.

Over the years, Swang has been enjoying vast popularity with its repertoire ranging from mythological narratives to contemporary issues with basic focus on entertainment, using elements of music, farce, dance interspersed with witty dialogue. In “Jaani Chor”, all these elements were blended to offer the audience uninterrupted joy with no pretensions of conveying moral message. It was an evening full of laughter with occasional touch of feelings of sadness of a forgotten wife.

Jointly directed by Dr. Satish Georgy Kashyap, a veterinary surgeon-turned-whole-time theatre practitioner and Dr. Sandhya Sharma, a trained folk artist and assistant professor of culture at Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, the narrative revolved round a cunning thief who has special knack of cheating credulous people. Like Robin Hood, he acts against the rich and powerful to help the poor. But he is not a gallant. His modus operandi is to win the confidence of his victims and then plunder them. Those in distress would appeal to him for the redressal of their oppression by the mighty. Once he was going to his sister's house to offer gifts for his niece at the time of her wedding, his bosom friend Nar Sultan earnestly appealed to him to liberate a young woman, Naar Mahakde, from the captivity of Adil Khan Pathan, a tyrant ruler, who is making preparations to marry the young girl by force. His regime is highly fortified and a large number of state spies are making rounds of the kingdom to keep an eye on strangers. Jaani accepts the challenge and publicly announces about his mission of liberation. Adil Khan becomes furious at the brazen challenge by a thief. One episode follows another which is full of fun and suspense, making his targets a butt of ridicule, culminating in the death of Adil Khan at the hands of Jaani Chor.

On the upstage a raised platform was decorated with bright colours on which a large number of instrumentalists and vocalists occupied space. The full-throated music has its own aural appeal. On the down stage performers enacted their roles to establish direct rapport with the audience.

Both the directors played male and female lead roles. Dr. Kashyap is not only steeped in the culture of professional folk artist which he inherited from his father. He was trained in Commedia dell'arte at Copenhagen and performed as a clown in Sweden, Norway and Finland. He acts with remarkable ease, displaying his professional training and experience. Watching his “Jaani Chor” is sheer fun. Dr. Sandhya Sharma impresses both as singer and performer. She makes the scene with Dr. Kashyap where she takes Jaani in the guise for her long lost husband, memorable.

“Jaana Tha Roshanpura”

Virendra Saxena was a popular actor and director in the Capital in the ‘80s. His production of “Ye Aadmi Ye Choohey”, an adaptation of Steinbeck's novel “Of Mice and Men”, received critical acclaim. A graduate from National School of Drama, he shifted to Mumbai to join Bollywood. His latest offering, “Jana Tha Roshanpura” which he directed for Qissago, Mumbai, is written by Samta Sagar featured at the ongoing Theatre Olympics at Kamani auditorium. It explores the bitter relations between a father-in-law and his son-in-law. Ishwar Prasad Awasthi, a retired IAS officer, the father of Panja, has the misconception that her daughter, who died in the young age of cancer, loves her husband intensely and ignores him. A possessive father, considers his son-in-law as a rival. As the dying wish of Panja that her father and husband should stay in the same house for a year after her death, they share the same room, fighting over little things, often shouting at each other. Now the time has come to depart after the end of the stay for one year. There are a few flashback scenes between the father and the daughter and between the husband and wife which evoke sad, tender feelings.

“Jaana Tha Roshanpura”

“Jaana Tha Roshanpura”  

Isolated from the outside world, they are agonised over their loss of Panja, a lovely sweet young lady but do not share their agony because of their mutual hostility. The characters live in the past, they have nothing to look forward. One of the characters says, “Memories are good which always stay with us.” In their gloomy-bitter world, they experience little joy when they see from their room a young couple falling in love on a distant balcony. The dialogues are commonplace and there is little space for the development of characters. The situations lack intricacy to reveal the psychological complexities and emotional turmoil of the characters. The dialogues are reduced to angry tirades. The way set is designed and properties are used, they hardly create the ambience that reflect the status of a retired senior officer.

However, the performers are trained and experienced who infuse some life into their sketchy characters that engage the attention of the audience. Virendra Saxena as the retired IAS officer, Ravi Mahashabde as the son-in-law and Samta Sagar as Panja engage the audience with their mature craft.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 8:47:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/vivid-colours-of-humanity/article22896176.ece

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