Lensman's fantasies trigger a laugh riot

Lensman's fantasies trigger a laugh riot

High on humour, this play staged as part of SRC’s summer theatre festival left the audience rolling with laughter

Who is interested in simple and commonplace things?” asks the shutterbug. Not in a manner to evoke excitement about finding newer things, day in and day out but to lament the fact that news photography is all about finding something shocking to the eye, as simpler things do not garner eyeballs!

Seen through the perspective of a newspaper photographer, the hindi play Janpath Kiss unfolds his imagination through the story of a PWD engineer Sadanand Mishra and a receptionist at a petrochemical firm, Mira Chandani. The play was staged as part of Shri Ram Centre’s Summer Theatre Festival. 

The introduction of the protagonists was characteristically in tune with the basic premise of the play. It had to be a startling introduction after all. So, the narrator (the photographer) places us in the busiest road of Delhi, Janpath.

A large sized photo of a zebra crossing around Janpath slides down, as the narrator describes the early afternoon scene of a winter lunch hour on the busy streets of Janpath. In the ordinariness of its routine, he spots Sadanand Mishra standing reclusively until Mira Chandani walks onto the stage.

The photographer wonders aloud, “What’s so dramatic about this setup?” And then, in a flash, Sadanand bumps into Mira and kisses her, giving the narrator the photo-op he was searching for. With a sensational tone of music, another banner slides down, declaring, “Daring kiss at Janpath. Ticket to Jail.” 

In a way the photographer’s muse is his search for shocking incidences. But it is not his choice, rather a necessity that his career imposes on him. In a similar way, Sadanand leads a life where he is compelled to live the ideal way according to the society’s norms.

Coming from a distant village, he is first asked to be an ideal son, then an ideal husband, and the list goes on. The irony is, in being an ideal son, he is almost sold off in a society where a well-bred groom is bid upon and he gets to marry a girl whose side offers the maximum dowry in the bidding.

Away from the claptrap of his married life, when he finds a ray of hope in the mesmerising beauty of Mira Chandani, he takes his chances, following his heart for the first time. This is what he describes to Mira as his way of putting forth a protest against society in the concluding segment of this one-and-a-half hour long play.

The photographer-cum-narrator rises back in action and explains how his imagination wove these extraordinary characters to hold the audience’s attention for so long. 

As he thanks the audience for hearing his heart out, he cautions that reality is stranger than fiction and nobody should try out Sadanand’s social experiment in real, evoking a hearty laugh out of the audience. 

In the end, he clicks another picture of the two protagonists, this time for his personal album as he leaves us with the note that such beautiful pictures are personal, they may not make it to the pages of a newspaper, but find a special place in our personal photo books. 

With a mix of satire, folk music and a very interesting section where the girl’s parents get into a verbal spat, repeating their refrains in a comical fashion, the play makes for an interesting watch. But it's a tad too long to keep you glued to your seats. 

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