This weekend we decided to catch a play in the capital. Mote Ram ka Satyagrah, directed by Arvind Gaur, was staged on a hot lazy Sunday at the Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts.
It was an adaptation of Munshi Premchand’s play.
It was the story of a simple Brahmin from Benaras, who takes on more than he can chew.
The story is narrated like a musical, with comedy and satire thrown in for good measure. On the surface, the story seems simple. But peel the layers and you find complexities making their way in your mind.
As the town of Benaras adorns itself to receive a Viceroy, as per the directions of magistrate Sir William Parkinson, the town prepares itself to welcome Pandit Moteram Shastri who agrees to go on a hunger strike to stop the people of the town from declaring a hartal against the Viceroy’s visit.
Whether or not the pundit succeeds in controlling his hunger is worth the wait. The humour that is aroused from the pundit’s temptations to eat brings the play to its comical climax.
The play also weaves in larger issues like religion and politics. These facets are intricately woven to bring out the threats that arise from them. It is amazing to see how the playwright captured a rather sensitive subject into a cohesive and entertaining play.
Even though the play talks about the days of the Raj, the issues raised are relevant and contemporary. But then, Premchand is known to be a visionary who wrote about issues that would find relevance far beyond his time.
This adaptation by Habib Tanveer and Safdar Hashmi hopes to achieve a greater social cause under the guise of laughter.