Monday, September 27, 2010

Avartan stages Badal Sircar's Evam Indrajeet

After a long time, prompted by family compulsions (true to the ethos of the play!), it was an opportunity to witness a play staged by Avartan at La Makaan, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad on 26th September 2010.

Avartan is a cultural group steered, presumably, by Dr. Satyabrata Rout of the University of Hyderabad. Satya happens to be the director of this play as also the character who plays the role of the writer referred to as kavi. He has a long association with the legendary B.V.Karanth on whose concepts he had done his Ph.D.

I would say it was a valiant effort considering that within five minutes of the first act, there was a power cut forcing the artists as well as the audience to move to the confines of a small hall lit by candles. More than the play, the audience needs to be appreciated for being accommodative. 

Coming to the play, in general, the individual performances were reasonably good. All are seasoned artists. Evam Indrajeet is not a new play. If I remember correctly, it was first enacted in the 70's. It was Badal Sircar's Indian contribution to the Theater of the Absurd. Given that the play has been performed ad infinitum, it was strange there was no fresh interpretation except for freshening it with contemporary lifestyle and references to current affairs.

As the title suggests, the protagonist is Evam Indrajeet meaning "And Indrajeet". He is different from Amal, Vimal and Kamal, the three representing mere travelers in life's journey without bothering about their destination. Indrajeet does not want to do anything simply because it is being done by all. He is searching for answers to existence. Yet, he introduces himself as Nirmal. He is even ready to an incestuous relationship. He leaves to New York (though the original play refers to London) as a software engineer. In fact, there is only one character in the play who assumes various forms. 

What I found missing in the whole play was the element of absurdity. But for the chubby, bubbly and eloquent Manasi (played by Shatarupa Bhattacharya) the play would have been a complete disaster. That shifts the focus from the protagonist of the play. Now this is the problem with the play. I would, certainly, not take away the credit from Indrajeet (played by Saurabh Gharipurikar). He does his job with single-minded purpose and focus. Unfortunately, theatrics and melodrama mar the play where naturalized acting was called for - only the mausi (played by Aditi) stands out even if she has a tiny role to play.

The director takes liberty to spice the play with elements of modern life but surprisingly writes with a pen. Where is the computer? The director gets kudos for referring to the Geeta ( Karmanyeva...). Who needs the existentialist? Damn Camus, Kafka, Satre and the whole bunch. We were there long ago with Lord Krishna's (the original existentialist) immortal Bhagavad Geeta. But does the play stop today's youth from drifting? Let us hope Satya comes up with a better narrative, stage handling and interpretation. He needs to be applauded by the theater enthusiasts.   

Who is the existentialist - Amal, Vimal and Kamal, or Indrajeet? Well, ask yourself!