The universal language of grief

The chiming of bells, as the actors enter the stage, ensures the presence of folk theatre techniques. A glance at the musicians, present below the stage, confirms that it is going to be a musical of sorts. But the theme of ‘Paying Tribute to World War I’ and attempting to redefine Dario Fo’s ‘Comedia dell’-Arte’ hangs in the middle as strong performers from the repertory hold the attention of the audience.

During the one-hour forty-minute performance, one gets a view of a village in pre-colonial India in Waman Kendre’s Ghazab Teri Adaa. Staged last week, the play dwells on the theme of Lysistrata (Greek comedy) and shows womenfolk strategising to stop their husbands from participating in war. The refusal of a sexual relationship is their weapon to convince their husbands to refrain from the battlefield. In addition, the projection of the state of widows of war adds relevance to the plot.
The execution, however, doesn’t appear like an improvisation of the Greek classic for there are certain ambiguities. Take for instance, the presence of a projection screen in the time of kingly states in India. Even if one accepts it to be a ‘vichitra yantra’, it is confusing to see images of modern-day women in different parts of the world protesting against wars. This dilutes the connection between the actors on stage and audience in Abhimanch auditorium (inside NSD).

While the comedy is mainly induced through sexual references and gimmicks, there is also a presentation of helplessness of women, in all seriousness. What works to make the grief appear universal is the script and dialogues that are lyrical and earn applause at various situations. In addition to this, the music arranger Subhash M Kharote does a praiseworthy job by letting each instrument make its presence felt.

As the old familiar faces of NSD repertory hold hands of the new members, the play progresses leaving one feel di­ssatisfied with the viewing experience. What remains fresh in memory are scenes such as the one where Gani­kaye (group of women) face the King as a universal audie­nce, and later double up as womenfolk of the village to bid goodbye to their husbands going to the battlefield. The fl­ame of lamps in thalis makes for a picturesque view. Even the choreography by Anil Narhar Sutar is appreciable for it makes best use of the hu­ge cast in order to make everyone visible to the viewers.

The presentation thus scores well at being magnificent but doesn’t bring out
anything new in the context of the socio-political concern that was supposed to be
its mainstay.  

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