Conversation between countries

Witty Adaptation

Conversation between countries

Ratna Pathak Shah’s directorial debut, ‘A Walk in the Woods’, was recently performed at Chowdiah Memorial Hall as a fundraiser for India Foundations for the Arts.

The two-hour long play saw Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapoor give a brilliant and thoroughly enjoyable portrayal of the interactions between an Indian and a Pakistani diplomat, who are sent to Geneva for peace talks. 

Adapted from American playwright Lee Blessing’s work by the same name, it carefully took the audience through the mind of each country’s ambassadors and their approach to diplomacy.

 Jamaluddin Lutfullah, played by Shah, was the old, cynical Pakistani who was convinced that if humans really hated war, there’d be millions of diplomats and only two soldiers. It was interesting how he tried to build a rapport with Ram Chinappa, the idealistic Indian who was played to perfection by Kapoor.

Keeping a lot of Indian stereotypes like attire and mannerisms alive, he cleverly played the young diplomat who was only concerned about being the effective negotiator and felt that friendship would take them away from their commitment to negotiating peace.

The flow of conversation between the two actors seemed very natural, making it all the more enjoyable for someone to watch them perform. “I thought the play was delightful. Performed by two veterans of the stage, it offered a poignant insight into how differing personality styles can create tension in a profession where the individual stands for an entity much larger than themselves. I only wish that it had been a tad shorter,” says Prateek Girdhar, who attended the play. 

Amidst the light humour, a lot of important questions on world affairs were presented in the form of witty, but hard-hitting, dialogues. When Naseeruddin Shah said, “We are mere dogs in Uncle Sam’s farms”, a connection could instantly be made to the stark reality of our times. 

“Instead of leaving me angry and frustrated, the play actually made me laugh and deliberately left me feeling almost nothing. It very subtly reflected how we have become,” notes Gitika Goyal, a member of the audience. 

Despite the strained history of the two countries, conversations in the play about the core issues like Partition, nuclear disarmament policies or even Bangladesh were informative and showed both sides of the argument.

 “The purpose of art is not to provide answers but to make one question. We would love to take this production to Pakistan and gauge the people’s reaction there,” says Shah. 

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