A collage of touching stories from life

Poignant Portrayal

A collage of touching stories from life

Kalayan Theatre Group recently showcased its latest production, Dasha, a series of Hindi plays directed by Mathura Kalauny at Alliance Francaise. A collage of four powerful stories, it depicted various states of existence, touching different lives and circumstances through satire, drama and a handful of wry humour.

The evening began with an adaptation of Premchand’s Kafan (the shroud), a moving story of Ghisu and Madhav, a father and son for whom immorality goes hand in hand with poverty. Unemployed, lazy and laden with debt, the two never attempt to better their situation. Madhav’s pregnant wife dies of negligence, because of which the two go about arranging the funeral and begging from door to door to buy a shroud. However, greed takes over and they shamelessly spend the money on alcohol and a sumptuous meal, a rarity for them. At the end, Madhav breaks down and questions his father as to what he will tell his wife in Heaven, when she asks him why they did not give her a shroud.

The second play, Langad, written by Shrilal Shukla, focussed on disillusionment and being trapped in the web of bureaucratic corruption. It revolved around Langad, who needed important papers from a tehsildar to proceed with his livelihood of khetibaadi (farming). He refuses to pay bribes to speed up the process and waits patiently for the day when his name comes on the notice board. Of all four plays, this had the most dark, circumstantial humour.

“I liked it because the dialogues were simple and the messages deep-rooted. I could especially relate to Langad because I recently faced some problems with a landlord owing to property issues, fought for it and got the necessary documents. But not everyone is fortunate enough,” notes Harkirtan Kaur, who came to see the play.
Chirag Ka Bhoot, a satire by Kalauny himself, explored the sin of greed. It dealt with the demands made by a common man on coming face-to-face with a genie. The last and most intense, Kaun Ho Tum Brihannala, also written by the director, depicted the life and struggles of a transgender. A simple but powerful story, it made the viewer empathise with the protagonist and reflect on one’s mindset towards hijras, who are as much a part of our community as anyone else.

While the sets were very basic, there were no two opinions on the acting skills, dialogue delivery and mood music. Even the costumes were simple and made the act quite realistic. 

“It was well enacted and I liked that such different subjects were explored over the course of the plays — they depicted how one layer of our society is being forced to live. It was good to see that people come all the way here to watch vernacular plays,” says Usha, an audience member.

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