Intellectually stimulating

Open Wounds

Chalo watan ki baat kare. This is the first line of Kharaashein, a play directed by Mathura Kalauny and compiled by Salim Arif from the collected works of Gulzar.

Arif deserves special mention for the tight and well-arranged script, which though a collage of stories and verses, still reads like a cohesive whole. His task could hardly have been easy picking and choosing from the works of the most poignant wordsmiths.

In the words of its director, “The play is about the wounds inflicted by terrible events during 1947, then again from time to time till today.” From partition to Gujarat riots, the script uses the words of Gulzar to drive home the idea that nothing has really changed.

The audience notices that after a bit, it becomes hard to place each snippet in the play with its historic parallel. You notice how each one folds into the other almost naturally and this is truly disturbing.

This portrait of anxiety raises an important question. In the words of Kalauny, “Supposing you were around when these incidents occurred, what would you think about? Would you choose religion or humanity?” The play is non-stop in its depiction of horror. There is no reprieve. It’s almost as if the playwright is mocking your complacence.
He seems to be asking you, if you can’t stand an hour and a half of this, can you imagine what lifetimes of these scares can do?

The language is evocative, with each word creating the desired impact. It’s a thing of brutal beauty. You stand mesmerised even as it attacks you, even when you don’t fully comprehend it. Even those not completely conversant with the language react to it and understand the sentiment. The actors use the language to build a foreboding atmosphere.

Deepak Ajmari, an actor, said “The play was intellectually stimulating for the entire cast.

The language is hard to follow. But the more we understood of it, the more helpful it became in positioning our characters.”

 The actors were mostly good. The only issue was some moments would have benefited if the actors had underplayed it. Over all, a worthwhile production that deserves
audience support.

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