Five-pointer's tale

A still from the play.  

The flavour of the season: scripts influenced, inspired, adapted, based on Chetan Bhagat's “Five Point Someone.” With the celluloid interpretation reaping accolades, its stage cousin certainly doesn't want to be seen scampering. After a short trip to the Capital last month, Chennai-based evam made a rather swift return to Delhi over the past weekend with more performances.

Staged at Kamani, the play keeps intact the soul of the text — camaraderie of three hostel mates and IITians. Directed by Sunil Vishnu, the production relies on the much-tested and the safest bet when re-creating the past, a tale rambling through semesters — of the narrator. So, senior Hari takes off from the promise a young Hari made in a cramped ambulance with a bloody Alok sprawled flat and Ryan tending to him — to write a book if Alok makes it through.

The narrator technique works reasonably well here. He has the key to all the smart one-liners and rakes up the most laughter. His reflections are mellowed by time, his punch lines make irrelevant tapering descriptions and humour becomes a mainstay. Despite senior Hari's monologue on Ryan, about how different he was from Hari and Alok, it is a single phrase that locks Ryan to a mould — “the guy who wore GAP to bed.”

Hari fumbles and mutters, when confronted to come clean on his relationship with Professor Cherian's daughter Neha. The narrator quickly steps in, “That's how men talk of their relationships” meeting earnest approval from middle-aged women in the audience.

The numbing insult to any IITian — to be called a commerce student, flourishes further when the narrator chips in. The tag, he says, “Is like a prostitute calling a client impotent.” The impact is definite.

Instant bonding

“Five Point Someone” brings to the stage, rather earnestly, the instant bonding, the cracks that tear Alok away from the rest, their recouping, disastrous attempts at beating the system and finally the falling in line of the three underachiever friends.

The group has worked well to keep the dialogues perky, the banter alive, as the text journeys from a novel to a play. However, “Five Point Someone,” definitely has its flips. Firstly, the play is a trifle unbridled — an excruciating two and half hours long. Intelligent trimming would have kept the core secure and never meddled with the impact. Scenes like Neha's meandering soliloquy to her dead brother Sameer sitting next to the railway tracks where he killed himself appear laboured, explanatory to the point of over-doing it.

Despite the opportunities, the play doesn't delve into different dimensions of Hari and Ryan. Hari's troubled relationship with his disciplinarian father, a possible reason why viva is his nemesis, is left to Ryan to merely touch upon. Ditto, Ryan's apparent lack of love for his parents is probed into haphazardly by Hari and left to him to recount — writing to his friend's parents posing as Ryan and facilely mending fences.

The sets of steel tables and stools, showing off their malnourished white legs, turned to everything from beds to benches. They are more reminiscent of a hospital than a hostel.

The cast of amateur actors is sincere, yet we miss the polish of the professionals.

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Printable version | Aug 5, 2021 8:05:48 PM |

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