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Uttarardha - Shanivaar dopahar 2 baje

Sunday the 1st April'07, I had been to Telugu university, Nampally. Sutradhar was staging a couple of short plays starting 7 o'clock. On Saturday when I called Vinayji for inquiry, he told me that he had read my last post . That made me feel good for two reasons; one, people read what I write and two, Sutradhar takes feedback and acts on it. Now for the plays. I would give 90 of 100 for script selection. Good stuff. Let me give my opinion on these plays one by one:

Shanivar dopahar 2 baje :

This is the tale of an illegitimate extra-marital relationship between a man (not so happily married with a daughter) and an aging spinster. They seem to have lost it on the 'family' life front and have sex every Saturday afternoon at 2. The affair has been on for last 2 years. The play is nothing but another Saturday afternoon ordeal happening in front of the audience that gives us a glimpse of their lives.

The script is well written. At least the subject appealed to me. There are some lose moments. Like the one where the man mentions the female's brother sister. I couldn't quite get what both the characters (on stage) felt for these unseen characters. I only understood that the lady wasn't quite happy with her sister and wanted her to get married ASAP. There is also this moment where the man talks about his wife sending his daughter for collecting some 'design' and the child getting lost. It was clear that the families were a trouble for the on-stage characters. But the off stage characters did not get 'established'. May be that wasn't the intention at all. But in my opinion, the off-stage characters (their respective families) are the reason for the play. They should have been more prominent.

It was also sad that some incidents drew undue laughter in the play. Like the part where they are trying to hide themselves from the people outside. I think that is the exact agony of the relationship that should hurt the audience.

For the direction - 60/100. There were some places where the only two character seemed to crowd the spot. They seemed to spend a lot of time talking while standing. I found that odd. Also, may be the director could have spoken to the writer and made the families more prominent. The funny moments should have been fewer.

The music - If I am not wrong, It was Bhimsen Joshi. It was a good choice. The volume was a little distracting. I would have loved instrumental any day.

The set - We could have have done without the lamp. It was taking up the space for nothing.

The performance - To say that Vinay Verma was good will be an understatement. He uses physical and vocal expression to the best in the group. No body at Sutradhar sounds as good as him. And he was at ease there. The lady was also impressive. Not as much although. She made her mark with the small soliloquy - a wonderfully written, directed and delivered piece of theater. But energy and voice is something that needs efforts from the lady.

This play gets a 70/100 from me.

Uttaraardh :

The story of two writers. An older writer trying to write the 2nd half (Uttaraardh) to his previously published story. And a youg writer who has also failed to deliver anything for the magazine and hence given a notice by the magazine to complete the older writer's story. The younger writer's real life is very close or rather same as the story whose Uttaraardh remains to be written. Let me brief the reader about the incomplete story under discussion.

This is the story of a young dancer who is into a relationship with both father and son. Father, for the security he can provide and the position he holds. Son, for his youth and exuberance. But when the father and son come to know about this triangle, they decide to put an end to it.

Ratan tells the oldie, that since he is a part of the actual story, he can help him complete the story and thus write the Uttaraardh. But the story shall unfold in a role play where Ratan plays the father and oldie plays the son.

The dancer is to bring to glasses of sharbat with poison in one. No one other than her knows which glass is poisoned. Both would accept the glass and hence the decision would be known without saying and the alternative wuld be eliminated. However, the father knows that the girl will chose him. So he swaps the glass with his son's, to save his son. But the son sees it and swaps the glass back, thinking that his father is very mean and wants to save himself. Thus the son dies. The father can not bear the trauma and becomes hysterical.

While doing the role play, real poison is used which kills the oldie. The glass swapping incident is the incident that has changed the life of Ratan as his mother stays faithful to the hysterical father and ruins her life. When Ratan receives notice from the magazine, he intends killing himself but wants to relive the moment that the glass swapping incident was. He himself goes mad after the old writer is dead.

Well I tried but the story is really confusing. We could not get it till we spoke to the translators and I am still not sure I have got it right. Vinayji if you are reading this, correct me if I am wrong. Again, a great script. Hats off to the script selection.

Also, the direction was wonderful. The director tried to do full justice to the script and characters. There was pace, there were points that looked stressed like the climax under the red spot, or the first time oldie loses bearing in role play. It looked director's cut.

The music - I did not notice anything except the sound of thunder.

The lights - good use of yellow cross lighting and white generals to demarcate the two stories (like I have used colour above :-) ). But there were black spots in the centrestage. Also the characters in the first play were sitting in the centrestage hence the lights were adjusted for them. The second play used the same spotlights without readjustment. The actors were also taller. So the bodies were illuminated more than the faces. The set was good.

The performances - Feroze, the young lad impressed me. He looked real and at ease on stage. But what I thought was his strength, turned out to be his weakness when I saw the entire play. I would blame him for my not understanding the story. The character did not build up to the hysteria. When the oldie died Ratan looked more sad than hysterical. I couldn't quite get it. The senior actor was stiff. His dialogue delivery had a Marathi accent. Some words could not be understood. He made his character look very dramatical. There was also some problem in both artist's standing posture. While Feroze stooped and looked casual in his stance, it also hindered his expression, as light came from top. The elder gentleman did not 'face' the audience most of the time. We got to see his profile more than once. On a lighter note, both the actors could have been mixed together and we could have two fine actors in equal proportion.

Thats what is "my opinion" on the two plays. You differ? You agree? Put a comment.

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