A Dramatic Weekend
NSD's Bharat Rang Mahotasv showed vivid colours during its first week but romantic comedy, thriller, folk theatre, real life stories and addressing societal issues were the flavours for the weekend.
Play by group Thertrewalas titled, Koi Baat Chale, a romantic comedy, revolves around the protagonist Kanhiya Lal Bansi Prasad. He is thirty-five years old, unmarried, and is a drama teacher in school. The play shows Bansi seeking the services of a marriage bureau to help him find a suitable life partner. Searching for his soul mate, Bansi meets Supriya while entering the same marriage bureau that he has approached. Greatly attracted to her, he describes her to Pyare Lal, the owner of the bureau. Pyare Lal introduces Bansi to many girls with a mole on their cheek, except Supriya. How Bansi expresses his feelings to Supriya is what Koi Baat Chale is all about.
Bhand Pather (Raaze Pather) performed by Dilkash Folk Theatre Hatmulla from Kashmir is inspired by Bhands which are the traditional folk entertainers of India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. The multilingual play draws attention to the lavish lifestyles of the kings, the extent of oppression experienced by the downtrodden masses, the rampant corruption and high handedness of the officials during this time. During the play the raaze of the king is brought to the centre of the stage in a small palanquin, which is carried by four men on their shoulders.
The court proceedings commence and the ministers present their cases as per their wishes and interests, thereby making the king give a false judgement. The play also aims to show other ill effects of an alien culture on Kashmiri society.
The play Ripples centres on the actor and focuses on his performance, using minimal set, props and other paraphernalia. The ensuing dialogues reveal multiple perspectives and reflections of several characters. Meaningless syllables are also used to highlight certain moods of these characters. The final play is the outcome of long discussions, research and practice by the director and the actor. Live music by the director plays a major role in terms of punctuating the actions as well as communicating with the actor, while using a variety of instruments.
Museum...of Species in Danger by Being Association was inspired by the brutal Delhi rape in December 2012. As people all over the country came out in shock and anger to protest in different ways. For the group presenting this play, their medium was theatre. As they started delving deeper to explore the subject, more than anything else they ended up exploring their own selves and psyches. This was when they came to the realisation that being a woman is much more than being just female.
Having started to explore women’s rights over a range of time frames moving from the mythological to the contemporary, they found that many things, good or bad, desirable or undesirable, follow the same paths even today. If a woman still experiences the same things, though in different faces, why should it not be documented, or perhaps, even preserved in a museum?
The play Cinemar Moto tells the story of the highs and lows in the life of Jayanti Bhadra, a woman crowned ‘Miss Calcutta’ in the mid-1970s. After marriage her husband, Jayajit Duttagupta, makes many attempts to make a movie with her in the lead. He manages to cast Uttam Kumar as the hero of his first film Suktara and even the mahurat takes place, but Jay starts incurring losses in his primary businesses by that time, and the shooting never materialises.
The plot proceeds with several other characters such as Jayanti’s sons Avijit and Prithwijit taking stage, all of which add to the complexity of the narrative. On 1 January 2013, Avijit visits the family and the plot moves forward?
A play based on Manto’s story, titled, The License, with certain references from Bertolt Brecht’s story The Job was showcased. Both these stories talk about the implication on people in an economy that is industrialising at a fast pace. A man unemployed finds a place as a watchman in a factory – parallel to this is the story of a self employed tongawala. The sudden death of the provider in both the stories drives the family to the brink of starvation.
The only thing that matters now is to salvage the job at all costs. Both in The Joband, The License the women adopt a plan that becomes as desperate as the situation. The fact that both these women were equal to the demands of their changed identity and new way of life is what forms the crux of the story. Both these stories could be considered as feminist stories and both have an androgynous undertone.
Sunday brought two interesting plays Taoos Chaman Ki Myna and Gosain Pather. Taoos Chaman Ki Myna is an adaptation of Naiyer Masud’s Urdu story by the same name. Work is on in full swing at the Royal Peacock Garden to install a wondrous cage that will house forty talking hill mynas. Soon the Cage and its lively, twittering occupants are entrusted to Kale Khan’s care. But he steals a myna for his little motherless daughter, who has long been asking him for one. What lies in store for Kale Khan...and the beautiful, historic city of Lucknow.
Gosain Pather is a traditional play which deals with the concept of realising God’s ultimate truth. A local Kahmiri Brahmin and his three sons receive some sadhus and take care of them in the hope of gifts, with their petty existence being exposed through humour and satire. Added to this is the female principal and matters move to a point where a discourse about the meaningless of the material world and the renunciation of the physical form itself ensues. The plot operates on many levels, from the physical to the abstract through teachings of indigenous traditions represented by Lal Ded and Nundrishi.