Courtroom drama

Courtroom drama

Theatre festival

Courtroom drama

Last October, when Nadir Khan was approached by Rage Productions to direct American film and television writer Reginald Rose’s classic teleplay 12 Angry Men, which was also made into a film by the same name, he didn’t think twice before saying yes.

“I had seen the film many years ago. But I did remember it was an iconic film and a great script,” says Khan.

So he began the research work and what finally came on paper was 12 Angry Jurors which isn’t an Indian adaptation and remains faithful to the original text.

“The first challenge was to figure out how to make sense of the story in the Indian context since we no longer have the jury trial system in India,” he tells Metrolife.

It was after Commander K M Nanavati vs State of Maharashtra case in 1959, in which Kawas Manekshaw Nanavati, a commander with the Indian Navy was tried for the murder his wife’s lover.

He was initially declared not guilty by a jury, but the verdict was dismissed and the case was freshly heard in the Bombay High Court. It was observed that in this case the jury was influenced by media and public support; hence the Indian government abolished jury trials after this case.

“However, the themes that the text explores are universal and identifiable. It also focuses on how an individual’s personality, prejudice and experience can affect and how they respond to a situation,” points out Khan.

The play which features Rajit Kapur begins with an 18-year-old boy from a slum who is on trial for the murder of his abusive father. A jury of 12 people is locked in the deliberation room to decide the fate of the young boy. All evidence is against the boy and a guilty verdict would send him to his death. But the judgement must be unanimous. Even before they begin a discussion, it is apparent that most of the jurors are certain the boy is guilty.

“To me, the play has quite a few similarities with what is happening in the country now. One is presented with information and can’t be sure about what to believe and what not to. Too many things are being accepted without question,” says Khan.

“A strong example of this is Aarushi murder case. No one knows what exactly happened on that fateful night. The interesting question is: If we did still have the jury trial system, would the outcome of the trial have been different?” he adds.

Khan also points out that theme of social inequality prejudice and social responsibility run throughout the play. “But at its very heart, for me, it’s an exploration of a world that is too ready and too quick to accept explanations that are handed to them. Just because one is offered something, does not mean that one has to accept it,” he says.

12 Angry Jurors under the Aadyam banner will be staged at Kamani Auditorium on July 30 and 31 at 7.30 pm.