A narrative of love spanning five decades

THEATRE FESTIVAL

Bright arc lights flash on the stage. Men dressed in khaki uniforms and women in salwar suits move on the stage.

Suddenly one amongst them starts narrating the story of love blossoming between a village girl and a soldier. The same person begins to enact the scenes. The lights grow dim and the soldier finds himself on the war front. Unmindful of his own safety he fights and struggles to save the life of his fellow soldiers. But one bullet lands
him on the death bed where he just remembers about his love and looks wistfully at the anklet (payal) of his beloved before drawing his last breath.

Scenes and dialogues, definitely, are at a fast pace but it is the beginning of the play Aadhi Sadi that features four popular short stories in Hindi. Aadhi Sadi was staged at the week-long 11th Natsamrat Natya Utsav. The play, directed by Devendra Raj Ankur started with Pajeb written by Gyanendra Kumar followed by Usne Kaha Tha by Chandradheer Sharma Guleri, Parda by Yaspal and Chief ki Dawaat by Bhisham Sahani.

All the four stories which date back from 1915 to 1960, complete 50 years. For this reason director Devendra Raj Ankur decided to title the play Aadhi Sadhi ( a half century) .  Though it establishes a literal meaning, there’s something else that establishes the deeper connect, and that is Love. 

If Usne Kaha Tha gives a glimpse of a true love through a boy who experiences affection for the first time then Pajeb gives a deeper meaning to this  feeling with a very small ornament, the ‘payal’.  Likewise Parda highlights a different aspect of love where members of a  financially weak family cannot think beyond the respect of each other’s dignity. Chief Ki Dawaat, on the other hand, focuses on how love helps to cross the biggest hurdles in life.

In the 90-minute play the same actors are seen playing different roles in different acts.  Each one of them tried to give their best performance but somewhere swiftness of the act was marred by the fast-paced dialogue delivery.

Even the stage set up was minimal which failed to create a magic moment.

Meanwhile, the festival featured plays like Sakha Ram Binder, Jis Lahore Nahi Vekhya O Jammaya Hi Nahi, Kambakht Ishq,  Chehre and Maare Gaye Gulfam. Interestingly, popular play Hi Handsome directed by Chitra Singh was also staged. 

The festival also felicitated directors and actors for their contribution to theatre.  K S Rajendran received the 6th Natsamrat Theatre Award, Jayvardhan got the best writer award; Sohaila Kapoor  was given best actress and Ravi Taneja as best actor; best in back stage was given to Kajal Ghosh and Lifetime Achievement was given to Arun Kukreja.

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