Sometimes a low-budget production can entertain and educate more with its directedness and relevance than some other lavish plays. With this play, Rang Nirvana Theatre, which did a wonderful job with its last performance, ‘Saiyyan bhaye Kotwal’, has returned to stage with biting poetry, a socio-political message, and some candid performances.
The play, directed by Rakesh Sharma, is a set of three short skits, all performed by Nauman Sarwat Azam and Abhijit Agarwala, and each introduced by a poetical prelude. The poet (Puneet Sharma) introduces us to the true meaning of art, by comparing poems with crops grown by poor farmers. Contrast amorous hearts with empty utensils, white pigeons with red seeds, true love with fake encounters and judge whether the art you admire stands on solid ground.
The first skit presents before us a unique dilemma – a sowing machine’s needle breaks every time the machine is run. Shall we repair the machine, or keep changing needles? We know the commonsense answer, but it seems the runners of this country, and exploitative regimes in general, are happy changing just the needles. An ingenious parable with a remarkable twist at the end.
The second skit takes us to the courtroom of a corrupt prime minister and a king, who is on an agenda to send peace troops to a jungle. Every logistical element of sending the troops finds a parallel account in the minister’s finances, who is planning a trip abroad. The poetical prelude to this act defines poverty and hunger as the biggest enemies that have led to the recent uprising of local populace. We talk about ‘paralysis’ of policy, but in these regions, where rapacious miners get a free hand, but not a hungry child a free lunch, the guns rage as usual. This story sees some good performances by the two actors, with mannerisms and gestures that arouse mirth.
The final act brings back from history Uncle Sam, who considers slavery to be the natural order of things. In the modern world, where have all the slaves gone? Well, they are just round the corner, and if we look carefully, everywhere. The workers, students, reporters, businessmen, people from all social classes are on sale. Where money rules, anything can be bought with an advertisement. The poetical prelude sums up the situation: we are like walking sticks smeared with gum; as one walks across the road, adverts fly all around and stick to us, feeding us against our will, with information that we do not require. In this world, the feeding tongue gets an upper hand over the stomach.
To sum up, the one hour long play with its interesting interweaving of poetry and drama, quite successfully encapsulates the social and political turmoil India has witnessed over the last decade or so, with regard to corruption, inequality, exploitation, greed and a disregard of democratic rights and duties. However, other than its interesting and engaging presentation, which surely leaves an impact, we wish it goes further and, with a larger production budget, enhances the dramatic parts with some eye-opening stories.