There is a new marking system for this play. It will be in kilometers. I cycled 15+15, 30 Kms (Chandanagar to Banjara Hills Rd. No. 8 and back) to watch this play. Dont ask me why. I just did it (and now 'feeling' it!!). So whatever Kms I give will be out of 30. That means that is the effort I would have put to watch the show, for what it was.
Overall the play gets a 17 Kms. A little below 60%, falling just short of first class. Neem Hakeem Khatra-e-Jaan is a an adaptation of an english play The doctor despite himslef which is a translation of original French play Le Médecin malgré lui by Molière.
The play is set in Hyderabad I guess. The central character is a good for nothing drunkard, Nathulal Bankepuria who has lost his job as a compounder with a doctor. He has been in this job for 6 years. He has a wife who always troubles him or vice versa but there are always quarrels. To get back to him, his wife convinces two courtiers of a deewansaheb that he is a Hakeem . These courtiers are in search of a doctor who can cure the Deewansaheb's daughter (Sharmili) who is blabbering nonsense. The girl is actually pretending to do so because her father is not allowing her marriage to the love of her life only because he is not as rich as the other option. The courtiers are told to bash up Nathulal till he agrees that he is a hakeem. He does so out of fear and expecting a good reward on possibly curing Sharmili. On seeing the patient, Nathulal starts making up stories about some imaginary diseas. He later comes to now the reality from Sharmili's lover. He arranges their eloping by disguising the lover as his student. The end is happy as the lover's rich uncle dies and he is formally married to Sharmili.
As you can see that this play is a farce. Some of the things I personally look out for in a farce are pace, flexibility and comic timing. Scripts in farce arent so great. Actors and directors can do wonders although. In NHKeJ, they tried sincerely, as they always do.
For me, the find of this play would be George (25Kms), who plays a small role as one of the two courtiers speaking chust Hyderabadi lingo. He has impeccable comic timing. Nobody on the stage matches him. For me he even overshadowed the main protagonist. I would experiment by giving him the main role for at least a show.
Sandeep, who played the main charater of Nathulal (15Kms), is a full time actor. But comedy doesnt seem his forte. He was wild, whacky and creative. But I looked out for timing and flexibility. It was there in meager proportions. I have seen him act in Otherness of the body and in their short film Vicharon ka Achar. he did a pretty good job in those places. But he wasn't the best here.
I am sorry I forgot the character as well the actor's name, but Nathulal's wife would win my second prize (20 Kms). She has a personality and a voice to suite farce. And she used it in style.
Other roles were comparitively small and did not leave an impact on me.
As far as adaptation is concerned Niyati did a good job for a first timer (18Kms). Some things that appealed to me were the name and the discription of the imaginary disease Sharmili has caught. WHat did not appeal to me much was that she could not give a geographical location to the play. Everyone was speaking a different language and place was not cosmopolitan. This is something that even the director/actor can imbibe into the play.
The direction was scatchy at times (18Kms). Having such young actors, one could have put their physical abilities to test. The casting was probably driven by who could give maximum time to rehersals (which I think is pretty normal considering that not all are full time actors). There was no music. Music could have added a totally new dimension to the play and could have made it more interesting.
Response wise, comedies are always crowd pullers. Sutradhar can bank on this to produce some fine comedies and take forward the theatre revolution they are heading in Hyderabad. I hope someday lots and lots of people will cycle more than 30 Kms to watch a Sutradhar play and will be glad they did it.