Unvoiced questions, suppressed desires and vampire tales
The Bharat Rang Mahotsav in it’s final weekend showcased some of the best plays. On Friday play titled, A Bedroom was staged, the story of the play revolves round the activities of a married couple on a single day from morning till night, although the thoughts, feelings, passions, emotions, lusts and desires they experience within this span could cover decades. Based on this premise the play moves forward and links events.
Another play Parash Pather was about how a humble court clerk gets hold of a sorcerer’s stone that turns iron into gold and becomes an overnight King Midas. The more he uses the stone the richer he becomes. Having got the wealth Paresh now tries to mingle with the ‘high-profile’ people of society. The story unfolds gradually, through news telecasts and by encountering the woes of the common people due to the inflation, Paresh realises the grievous effect of his parash pathar on society and human beings. And thus unfolds his rediscovery of himself.
A Bhavai titled, Banjar Vesh was also staged. Bhavai is partly entertainment and partly a ritual offering made to Goddess Amba. Subtle social criticism laced with pungent humour is the speciality of Bhavai. Some of the plays present a scathing review of the caste-ridden social structure.
Naachni, based on the novel Rasik, looks at the lives of nautch girls. Bijolibala, a young girl is sold by her mother to a dacoit, Bharat Sardar. Bijoli is then rescued by her married lover Pandavkumar and finds shelter in his house with Dhruvakumar, the older rasik and Kusmibai, his ageing naachni and Pandava’s wife, Lata. Pandav loves Bijoli but also decides to take her on as his own naachni, which is when the problem starts. The musical raises questions about patriarchy and the position of women performing artists even in the 21st century.
Play Ek Kutte Ki Maut based on Mark Haddon’s story, in this murder mystery a dog, Wellington, gets murdered in the middle of the night in a quiet little neighborhood. A 15-year-old boy Christopher, decides to find out who the murderer is. The elders in his neighborhood, as well as his father, don’t want him to undertake the investigation, but his teacher, Siabhan, supports him and decides to write a book about his investigation. It is this book that gets read out in the play.
On Saturday some interesting plays were staged like Hiyang Athouba (The Vampire) which plots as an army chief, travels from Yumphal valley to Athouba’s house, to fulfill his mission of finding and bring back a particular flower from the village. Although initially enticed by Athouba’s gracious manner, Khullanba soon discovers that he is a prisoner in the house, and begins to realise disquieting truths about his host. How he finally manages to escape from the house forms crux of the story.
The first half of another play titled, Garud Janam (Dashavatar) involves rituals like invocatory prayers to God Ganesh and Saraswati, and the entry of Sankhasur, the evil spirit that Vishnu’s first incarnation, was born to destroy. The first half ends with an enactment of the story of the man-lion avatar Narasimha. The second half is a play based on a myth the story about the birth of Garud.
Play titled, Kitchen in the Corner of the House is the story is an account of the everyday toll of a Rajasthani household run by the patriarch and his wife, who everyone refers to as ‘Papaji’ and ‘Jiji’. A big family in a big house, where the women are pushed to cook. A status quo challenged by the educated, independent Meenakshi, bringing her in direct conflict with Papaji. As the final word, the writer persists in Meenakshi’s voice who implores jiji to free herself from the bonds of kitchen and gold. To free her inner being from the hold of womb and breasts.
In play titled, Awkward Happiness, an intimate relationship is perceived as a playground to explore the individual and his or her great quest for happiness. Masks fall and reveal the unvoiced questions like,?is happiness something that we seekin another person?