15th Bharangam Diary: notes, rants and experiences

DAY 3: 7th Jan 2013

Mohandas

Script: Uday Prakash

Director: Rajinder Nath (Theatre Repertory Company, Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts, Delhi)

The question of identity is a many layered puzzle that baffles a human soul everywhere on this earth. How does one define oneself? A lower class kabirpanthi? A B.A pass graduate? A son? A husband? Mohandas explores these questions any more in an empathetic manner. The protagonist pleads with the audience to start things off, ‘main Mohandas nahin hun!’ he is sick of being tortured, humiliated and ignored, all because of a name that has been usurped by someone else. That someone else is from a higher caste is ironic, and convenient. The play has a narrator, the writer, who introduces us to the characters, gives political context and urges the audience to jolt out of our shameful, urban nostalgia that such idiosyncrasies do not happen anymore. India is supposed to be shining but still, people like Mohandas (the name sounds familiar doesn’t it?) get pushed about the bureaucratic mill, until they are sick of their own name. He refuses to be called Mohandas any longer.

The design of the play was well suited to the free flowing narrative and the performance of the lead, Sameep Singh, was gritty and ‘aam aadmi’ like. The music interludes were songs of Kabir which aptly summed up the scenes played out before.

The Country without a Post Office

Based on: poem by Agha Shahid Ali

Director: M. Muzamil Hayat Bhawani

The play is as lyrical and political as its source. A free-flowing set of situations derived from the poem, this production is all about the final point of the argument that Kashmir has become – Freedom. The repression of the people and oppression by the state go hand in hand, never wavering in their support for each other. A Kashmiri boy wants a letter (in Hindi) read by an Indian army man. He falters, looking for the right words. The army man pulls him up for not remembering his dialogues, ‘aise karte hain natak?!’ Yes, this is how you do a play which says nothing but the obvious yet demands full attention of all watching. An acquaintance commented after the play that it was all design and no content. Well, my fellow Indian, the content is but a single word, Azaadi.

Please do yourself a favour India, just let go of Kashmir. Millions of letters have gone undelivered and millions more will.

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