Slice of Kafka for the aam aadmi

Bringing The Trial, one of the “dreaded” 20th century German playwright, Franz Kafka’s novel to the Indian audience was a “challenge”, feels television and theatre personality Rama Pandey.

“He is such a complex writer. I worked on the Hindi translation of the book Der Prozess (The Trial) for on and a half years. I thought I will not be able to do justice to it unless I understand the man. Why and how was he reacting in a certain way were some questions I constantly asked myself and understood through his writings,” said Pandey.

She has now conceptualised the novel as a Hindi play, Giraftaari, which is about a man who is put on trial without knowing the crime he has been accused of.

“I thought an experimental drama was relevant to depict the current social, administrative and legal system in India. I added elements of Haryanvi lingo and tried to show how
an aam aadmi would react if he were to be arrested without an explanation. The challenge was to convey the right message to the audience,” Pandey told Metrolife, at the recent staging of the play at Shri Ram Centre for Arts and Culture.

She added, “I have tried to bring Kafka to the aam aadmi. I have used a lot of film techniques like in documentary dramas. My book can’t be called only a translation of The Trial. It is based on the trial but also has one-third of Kafka in it. I constantly talk about his craft, thought and power of his pen.”

But why Kafka? “The grey writing has been made even darker to such an extent that people are afraid to read. I have tried to make it simple. My intention is to highlight Kafka’s simple ideas,” she said.

Pandey’s Montage Films and Theatre believes in socially relevant theatre, and provides a platform not only to young artistes like Arman K Jha, Jattin Sharma, Rajat Arora, Mangat Ram, Amarjeet Arora but also to veterans like Lakshmi Shankar Bajpai and Ashok Vyas.

“I wouldn’t do anything if it is not socially relevant, and something everybody can understand. It was needed to get Kafka sans the dark psyche that he’s associated with,” said Pandey.

Emphasising the importance of classic literature, she said, “It is necessary to give importance to classics of other languages. They not only open one’s mind but also give us limitless possibilities.”

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