Theatre

Of unfulfilled possibilities

Punch-less: A scene from the play.

Punch-less: A scene from the play.  

more-in

“Naked Truth”, presented by theatre group Prastav in New Delhi the other day, could have more finesse

“Naked Truth”, presented by Prastav at New Delhi’s Alliance Francaise this past week, seeks to project a society in deep moral crisis struggling to find a way out of the spiritual alienation and to realise its human essence. The production featured some young enthusiastic actors of the Delhi stage who transformed a rather amorphous script into an animated show with their lively performances.

Based on “Scene No 75”, a short novel by Rahi Masoom Raza, one of our finest writers who achieved popular acclaim for his script and dialogues for the TV serial “Mahabharata”, the stage version is written by Raj Narain Dixit who could not give his version a proper dramatic form. The way events are revealed have little cohesiveness and logic. The narrative keeps on shifting from one locale to another and from one issue to another. In this process, the focal point is lost.

The play opens with a brief monologue of a writer, sitting alone on the chair in his study. He is confronting a conflict between the personal and the outside worlds. Before he is able to elaborate his point, we watch a theatre scene on Mahatma Gandhi which depicts the confrontation between Gandhi and his son who expresses his anguish and resentment against his father for neglecting the family. The son says Gandhi has been exploiting his family to satisfy his ego and to prop up an image of a saint. Kasturba tries to assuage the hurt feelings of their son and advises him to maintain the sanctity of the relationship between father and son. No sooner we get absorbed into the scene then there occurs a disruption, we are told that this is part of a rehearsal of a play and the performers step out of their characters, talking about their dreams to shine in the Hindi film industry in Mumbai and their disgust of working in the theatre which hardly fulfils their basic necessities.

The next scene is set in Mumbai. The shifting of locale and thematic elements appear to be abrupt. The narrative keeps on meandering and it acquires some momentum only towards the second half.

There are three main characters — Ali Zaheer, Vijay Dikshit and Mohan. They have been working in a theatre group and out of frustration, they go to Mumbai. In the murky and heartless world of Bollywood they keep ploughing on to realise their dreams of achieving fame and money.

Mohan is spotted in the wilderness of fame seekers by a failed script writer. His motive is to exploit Mohan’s talent as script writer. After leading an adulterous life in the house of the failed writer, he finally manages to escape to freedom. With the attainment of commercial success, his living standard becomes very high and he mostly does his writing in a five-star hotel.

Ali is a writer and a committed Gandhian. He believes in the contemporary relevance of Gandhian thought. At the same time, he has a passion for theatre and is of the opinion that theatre could be an instrument of social change, a comment on the rotten state of Indian society. The third character is Vijay Dikshit who has no scruples, his only motto is to achieve success. For him everything is a commodity and saleable.

After moving on their different paths, pursuing their chosen ideas, they meet after several years. Ali and Mohan are shocked to confront Vijay in a new avatar as a script writer for an agent-provocateur to fan communal violence. He is able to persuade his friends to join him as writers in return of huge money for a rabid Hindutva communalist.

Directed by the script writer himself, the production appears inadequately rehearsed. Most scenes are loud. An ingenious and subtle use of chorus would impart to the production a sense of harmony.

Jateen Sarna, as Mohan, offers a convincing performance, bringing alive various stages of the development of his character. Despite his shifting allegiance and opportunism, he remains true to Aliya with whom he has worked in theatre. Avinash Singh as Ali Zaheer, and Devas Dikshit as Vijay Dikshit, are engaging in their performances, imparting a subtle touch to their portrayals. Palak Aggarwal as the landlady and the wife of the failed script-writer, displays her impressive stage presence and effective dialogue delivery.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Theatre
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 9, 2019 11:41:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/of-unfulfilled-possibilities/article3658506.ece

Next Story