MPTF 2014 Theatre

Citizen Reviews: Colour Blind

Comes alive on stage Photo: R. Ravindran  

In the mood for death

If you went to see Colour Blind expecting a conventional play with a beginning, middle and end, you might as well have stayed at home. Colour Blind is a series of incidents in Tagore’s life loosely strung together. Not the most defining or momentous, but some of the lesser-known ones. Through these moments the play attempted to go past the perceived persona of Tagore and give us a peek at the manIn a series of montage-like moments, characters from his plays and real-life associates played their parts to help recreate the man. Death plays an important character and is omnipresent through all phases of his life. This fascination with death is beautifully defined and it is almost a partner in crime as Gurudev seeks to find the elusive ‘song’ that he has been searching for all his life.

 For the writers to a 'feel' for what the man was about, using such an unconventional format, it requires fabulous production values, spot-on acting and relatable characters. Colour Blind delivers on all fronts and how! Kali Koechlin as the writer, and Tagore's Argentinian muse was fantastic and seamlessly wove in and out of her roles. All who played Rabindranath Tagore were also very good.

The play slipped into different languages effortlessly and so we had characters speaking in English, Hindi, Bengali and French. However this is exactly where the play faltered. There were only, perhaps, a tiny segment of the audience who understood all the dialogues.

Priamvada Viswanathan, Nungambakkam

Vanagaram Of moments, memory and music

Colour Blind is a warm, achingly beautiful portrayal of Tagore’s life and his relationship with Death. The child whose head was dunked in water by servants to keep him quiet, the boy who lived his life inside a circle drawn of chalk for fear of punishment, the young man who was always in search of ‘that’ song, and then...the 63-year old who reached out with tenderness to 33-year old Victoria Ocampo, the Argentine writer and intellectual, in a villa by the river Plata. The actors in Colour Blind have depicted these moments with poignancy so deep, you are left struggling with your reactions to those moments. The transitions between the present, past, imagined, and surreal are so seamless that you almost want to blot out the fact that the play will end at some point. But the end comes. An ailing, lovelorn Tagore desperately searches for Ocampo inside the chalk circle of his childhood; Gurudev’s ink runs out, Death arrives in a beautiful female form, and all the other actors snuff out the flame. And what’s playing in my head are these lines from Tagore’s Puravi: “When on a full moon night/ All around is full of laughter/ A distant memory brings from somewhere/ The song of a wistful flute/And tears in abundance flow.”

Radhika Jayaraman, Rajiv Gandhi Salai

Only human

Can you capture the myriad hues of a prolific and enigmatic polymath as Tagore in the 75-minute canvas of a play? aRANYA pulls this off impossible as it demystifies the persona through his relationships, principally with Victoria Ocampo, the Argentinian writer. Words from the research paper of a student (Kalki) and her professor (Satyajeet ) get magically transposed into energetic tableaus of Tagore’s journey from his lonely childhood through his vulnerable interactions with the women in his life, even as death stalks him relentlessly. Satyajeet and Kalki slip effortlessly into their alter-roles of Gurudev and Victoria respectively, with the latter especially outstanding inher fluent switch to French and her audience connect. Amrita and Ajitesh essay the parts of Tagore’s childhood and youth brilliantly. Tagore was colour blind and this frailty reflects in the blur of his emotions as we realise that legends are also human.

Bhaswar Mukherjee, Alwarpet

A movement through time

A good work of art should be able to transport you into the world of its protagonist. Colour Blind does exactly that through its powerful direction. The dialogues are structured and lucid. The play lets you peep into the complicated life of Rabindranath Tagore and his relationship with Victoria Ocampo, which inspired many of his poems and paintings. The way Tagore dealt with his surrounding; his own characters and loss of loved ones are vividly portrayed. Both Kalki and Satyajeet Sharma do justice to their characters and also add the ‘humour factor’ to a serious play. The play moves ‘to and fro’ through the past and present of Tagore’s life. This sense of moving through time is beautifully created through clever use of the focus and fading away of light. The play, in every, sense is well crafted.

Abhinita Mohanty, Taramani

A literary escape

Colour Blind by aRANYA left me speechless. After being lost in the swirl of a language I did not understand, it all came back to me like an old fragrance. Or maybe, like that of Tagore’s case, an old, elusive song. I saw literature as Tagore’s escape from the madness of tragedy. Family members had dropped dead like flies. And then, his attempt at holding onto a moment was to be his means of revenge against time and age. That moment failed him, as did his words, for that moment, and so, he looked to painting for respite. His writings were both a grieving and a seeking. While watching this play, I too felt the need to write beyond some inexplicable pain, to find my song. For a brief moment, I too seemed to have become… Tagore.

Rachel Pamela Joseph, Anna Nagar West


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Printable version | Jun 12, 2021 2:33:17 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/citizen-review-colour-blind/article6350045.ece

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