Humour through the eyes of Chekhov

Humour through the eyes of Chekhov

 Humour is a strange emotion which manages to bring out lightness even at a time of pain. Well-known Russian writer Anton Chekhov managed to bring this out through his short stories. Known to be a doctor by profession, he always said, ‘Medicine is my wife, literature is my mistress’.

As part of the Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival, Ranjit Kapoor, along with his troupe The Entertainers presented a Hindi play Chekov ki Duniya, where they selected six short stories by Chekhov.

Giving an insight into Chekhov’s life, the audience learnt about how his stories were taken from the simple occurrences of life. Chekov ki Duniya used Chekhov as the main protagonist, who takes the audience through the six stories, beginning with Cheek. Filled with irony, the act included a sneezer, who can’t stop apologising enough, to a blustering general for sneezing on his head at an opera.

 This was then followed by one of Chekhov’s popular stories called Surgery — the story of a priest with a toothache and an inexperienced dentist, who aches to successfully pull out a tooth using what looks like torture instruments from the middle ages. While the exaggerated sequence of pulling out the tooth brought out instant laughter, one also felt sorry for the priest who underwent the torture.
Shikaari, the next story talked about a man giving tips on how to seduce another man’s wife by using the husband as a bait. Of course, this came with a statutory warning for both the husband and the wife.

The next story, Besahaaraa Aurat showcased the freedom the director had given the actors to feel the character. One was actually convinced that the wild woman seemed to have a nervous disorder. Her conversation with the banker with whom she tried to extort money was the funniest of the lot.
But Dooba Hua Aadmi shocked the audience when the man said his livelihood is earned by drowning. Through the play, Ranjit even showcased a bit of Chekhov’s childhood and his relationship with his father in the final story Gift.
Chekov ki Duniya is not only touched every major human emotion, but also managed to tell the audience about the post transition period at the time of October Revolution. A truly enjoyable watch.

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