Caught this play during Ranga Shankara’s annual theatre festival. You can read here how the creators describe the play. I will tell you how I received it.
It is a play-within-a-play story, set in 1960s in Allahabad’s Neelima theatre. The big actors seem to command the same fan-following and are entitled to the same show of tantrums and arrogance as the big movie stars of our days do. One such talented and popular, but arrogant, actor is Satyasheel. He has grown old and his eyesight is weakening. At the brink of blindness he is going to give the last three performances of his illustrious career.
Like many professional successes, he hasn’t been much of a success in his personal life. He hasn’t proved to be a great husband or a great father. And he doesn’t repent it enough to exonerate him in the eyes of the audience. He almost justifies his failures – sometimes even alluding to them as his righteousness.
In these last three days of his professional life, he has to confront his personal life though. He has to answer his long estranged son, who, though young, has still made a name for himself in the world of theatre. The father-son reunion is not all tears, love and emotion though….
Then there is the play they are performing inside the play. A rather scathing and satirical take on Mahabharata spun by Lord Krishna. How many common and uncommon people are sacrificed in making of one hero? Is it worth it? Probably yes. The world needs heroes. But it’s difficult to agree to that once the sacrificed stop being invisible and are presented to you in all their glory – and with all the gore of their fate. Abhimanyu and Eklavya have more in common than meets the eyes. They are both sacrificed at the altar of Arjuna’s greatness.
You laugh through this heart-rending realization though. That’s the success of satire. This play within the play was the strong part of the performance.
The story of theatre, of father and son did not leave as strong an impression on me. It was supposed to tug at my heart, but it didn’t.
Overall, however, worth a watch.