Urban island dwellers

Darshan Jariwalla and Mandira Bedi during a scene from the play Conditions Apply, which as staged in the city recently.   | Photo Credit: Spl

The play ‘Conditions Apply' is not just about the lighter side of contemporary urban life. Even though the play tickles the funny bone all through, it is essentially about how one ends up on islands of one's own making in our cities.

That gives the play, written and directed by Vikranth Pawar, a definite urban tinge to begin with. Seasoned performances from Darshan Jariwalla and Mandira Bedi took the play to greater heights.

The play was staged at IMA Hall as part of the ‘Freedom through Education' fund-raising programme of Cochin Backwater Round Table. In just about an hour, the play about an unnamed man and woman, who are in diametrically opposite personal spheres, criss-cross each other in an extraordinary moment in their life.

Different perspectives

They meet at a supermarket, in front of a rack of noodles. The man, an introvert, tries to avoid her presence by pretending to read the back of the noodle pack. The woman, who is struggling to control her emotional outbursts, gets restless and hits the man on his head. In the confusion that follows, the woman leaves with his mobile phone. The rest of the play is about each other narrating their version of the story, with a mobile phone that they cannot use.

Premiered in 2009, this play has done well in various cities. “We have concentrated on the loneliness of individuals. That could be a reason why cities with an expatriate community can associate with the characters,” says Jariwalla, who has a career spanning 30 years in English, Hindi and Gujarati theatre. He also played the title role in the film ‘Gandhi, My Father.'

The play has a deceptively simple structure, right from the sets and props. At the back of the stage are piles of plastic chairs, in varying heights. “People from cities often relate it to skyscrapers. I leave the conclusion to the audience,” says Vikranth Pawar, who has been involved in English theatre for the last nine years.

The man in the play starts by claiming to have learnt how to overcome negative thoughts through a motivation therapy course. By design, Jariwalla introduced the character on a loud note and thus he remained till the end, when the character falls into the deep abyss of depression, having realised the hollowness of his existence.

On the other hand, the woman in the play is struggling with her emotions at the start of the play. A gadget on her wrist alerts her when she becomes too emotional. She throws the gadget in a cathartic movement to have a good cry. Mandira Bedi did justice to the character by not slipping into melodrama.

When the two finally gather courage to call their mobiles, they get engaged tones. Both are calling the other at the same time. An automated voice from the service provider ends the call with a ‘conditions apply' offer.

Play of confusion

The play ended with a series of short flashbacks of sorts; short depictions, punctuated by light-outs, of situations mentioned by the characters during the play, but from different perspectives. This, in a way, jumbled whatever narrative logic that the audience might have formed till then.

“We started off with two or three narratives, but now we have around 11 such pieces. We chose to end the play like that, because there is no moral in this play and we can afford to experiment,” says Pawar.

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 9:36:10 AM |

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