Jaydev Hattangady’s production of Badal Sircar’s EVAM INDRAJIT which also has son Aseem in the title role takes the philosophical content of its script too seriously for its own good. The result is a drab, unimaginative piece of theatre and the only thing that stops you from falling asleep is the text itself. The play is one hell of a timeless piece of literature and you can’t help but be sensitive to its every nuance that nudges at the very existential question of being.
So good is the play that it can outdo all the Jaya Raos and the Asaram Bapus of spirituality channels like ‘Aastha’ and ‘Sanskaar’ if only they would have the humility to accept that literature, art and yes even the sciences too can teach one a thing or two about consciousness and all that jazz. Congratulations Mr. Sircar. It is no small wonder why after all these years, people still find a resonance with the play.
I have no idea how other past productions of the play have fared but since it was only last year that I saw Evam’s (a Chennai based theatre group) production of the play, I can’t help but draw a comparison between the two. If Evam I thought went a bit too far with its complicated set daubed in a hue of green, this production dosen’t have one to begin with.
And while I accept that the lack of a set can hardly be any excuse for a production’s veritability, it is difficult to accept one that does not even have a semblance of a stage design. Unless the lone vacant chair at the beginning of the play seemed to suggest something that I have entirely missed. This chair was obviously put to practical use by the writer (Paramjeet Singh) but almost throughout the duration of the play all the characters just stood and talked. No problem with that too but scene after scene came to resemble the flat line that is indiscriminately employed in hospital scenes of our daily soaps.
Even the actors offered no reprieve; Rohini Hattangady being the only exception. In the character of the writer’s aunt and Indrajit’s mother she managed to add some spark to the show. Snehal Adile’s Mansi who also doubled, tripled and quadrupled up as the writer’s muse and as Amal, Kamal and Vimal’s wife is perhaps the most wooden actor that I have come across in recent times. Aseem Hattangady’s Indrajit on the other hand came across as a man whose troubled mind seemed at odds with a body that did its best to contain the swagger and the hubris of youth.
The only thing that the actors had to their credit was that they were able to enunciate each and every word clearly of Dr. Pratibha Agrawal’s Hindi translation of the play. And this leads me to wonder why isn’t the production titled ...AUR INDRAJIT since it is in Hindi? Okay... Just forget it.
*The writer is Editor of this site, a theatre critic and an academic keenly interested in Theatre and Performance Studies.