Theatre

Script is the strength

'Doosra' a tamil play on Cricket, in progress. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

Shraddha, after its initial production “Dhanushkodi,” comes out with a “Doosra.” It is, as the name implies, the story of cricket. The writer-director Anand Raghav traces the changing complexion of a game that unites the nation like, perhaps, nothing else. The previous production lacked a powerful script and had a rather clichéd plot making for déjà vu. “Doosra” staged under the auspices of Kartik Fine Arts at the Narada Gana Sabha auditorium has a strong script, and an unwavering focus on the theme.

Unlike the previous venture which created waves mainly through its production values, here the subject is new and the dialogue well crafted, scoring sixes quite often with punch lines. The writer-director propels the play forward with a strong stay at the crease and his team of actors is with him all the way. But “Doosra” fails to score, unlike “Dhanushkodi,” in the provision of good sets and props. It also fails to fully to exploit the potential of the theatre for the play relies too much on the effects created by the electronic medium.

Anand Raghav outlines with passion and clarity the character of the game and the erosion of values, through the rise to the top of an ace spinner and batsman, Ganesh Viswanathan. He is groomed by his dedicated father who realises his dream of success in the game, through his son. The progression of Ganesh’s career is dealt with by the playwright as a reflection of the plummeting nature of the game, getting increasingly mired in politics, corruption, money laundering and match fixing

“Delhi” Ganesh is the committed father whose enthusiasm wanes as he is faced with a “disconnect” with his son as the young man becomes a victim of his own success. The veteran captures the personality with authenticity though more rehearsal of lines is in order. One however wonders why in every Tamil play the middle class husband treats his wife with such scant respect. It is a trend that surely needs to be reversed.

“Kathadi” Ramamurthy here is the quintessential politician, abysmally ignorant of how the game is played but with a sure feel of how to feather his nest. He fits the role like a glove putting in an inspired portrayal. His clothes, his bearing and his hilarious quips all paint the politician’s hues with sureness and yet without the stereotypical menace. But how does the Minister enter the picture at all? By introducing him into the scene, the credibility of the plot is hit.

Anand Raghav, as the selection committee chairman, does his bit well, especially where he dwells on the analogy of cricket to cooking. Girish as cricketer Ganesh has a good stage presence and his portrayal of the role is quite convincing. Swami Ganesan plays the role of the captain who loses his cap owing to political machinations. He leaves his imprint through the scene where he raises relevant questions on equating the game with patriotism.

Sridhar is the diehard fan who turns abuser once he discovers his idol has feet of clay. The others artists lend support. But Yuvashree, as the actor who is paired with the cricketer in the ad film, goes overboard with her coquettishness.

The sets are disappointing, right from the bare room in the beginning. Even when the hero climbs up the ladder to stardom, his home is sketchily executed with wisps of some gauzy material masquerading as curtains and poor quality furniture, not to forget the unframed blow up of him on the wall. And except in a few scenes such as in the game of street cricket, the director fails to integrate more than two actors into the scenes. Stage space is used poorly and the action pushed to the far end. One is subjected to bare stretches of the rippled back curtain for a major part of the play.

The screen is used best for projecting the crowds for the test match. The device of cricket telling its own story seems a bit schoolroom. But it has the desired outcome, with a full circle being described poignantly with the return to street cricket at the end. And the writer pointing out that the true custodians of cricket are these innocent youngsters – unspoilt, uncorrupted and sincere to the spirit of the game.

In all despite the drawbacks, “Doosra” scores a win for Shraddha.

Kausalya Santhanam


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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 2:58:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/Script-is-the-strength/article15535324.ece

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