Direction : Dr. Vivek Bele
Writer : Dr. Vivek Bele
Cast : Jaydeep Mujumdar, Shalvi Palande, Vaishali Pimpalkhare, Ruta Pandit, Prasad Shende And Gaurav Barve

MH12J16 Play Review

Deepa Punjani

 MH12J16 Review
No upcoming shows.

Every playwright worth their salt must have at least once wondered even among the more grudgingly so, if there indeed is a formula to keep their audience interested - now more so in an increasingly distracted world hooked to smart phones. This little-big premise is what MH12J16, written and directed by Dr. Vivek Bele and produced by Awishkar, is in a nutshell, all about. In the characteristic style of Dr. Bele of the fame of plays such as KATKON TRIKON, it is clever, yet while its framework may give some headroom in a creative writing course, it can just as turn upon itself and be rendered prosaic and specious.

MH12J16 Marathi Play

MH12J16 is then that hypothetical Mercedes which must guide its carefully chosen audience member (Vaishali Pimpalkhare) towards an enraptured ride that would end in the proverbial beautiful sunset thus marking her due satisfaction with the play she has just witnessed. To that end seasoned director (Jaydeep Mujumdar) must guide Saudamini - a young and budding writer (Shalvi Palande) in the art of keeping the lady in row J, seat 16 suitably engrossed. The director upbraids his protégé, chastises her, gives her his piece of mind; his sharp eye impatient of what he feels is indulgent writing, distracting the viewer. Eventually they become a team. The writer's plot is simultaneously enacted in what first appears as a typical husband-wife drama but which purports to have actually more than it reveals - it is this 'twist' if you may like to call it, that has the chosen audience-member thoroughly taken in spite of her initial preoccupation with the staple vada pav post interval.

In 1879 the theatre exploded with a reverberating door. Silence followed. This was the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's A DOLL'S HOUSE, which made its heroine Nora deeply resonant in country after country. India was no exception. Some very good productions have since taken place. Today however the play in its most vividly imagined productions, can only be sometimes relevant. It seems especially dated to counter its echoes in the writing of a supposedly progressive, urban, young Indian woman playwright about town. So we meet cliché with cliché in Saudamini's or fashionably "Saud"'s play performed by Ruta Pandit, Prasad Shende and Gaurav Barve to much perfection. Saudamini's Nora is set to exit but one wonders if Saudamini is any wiser about the stories she may set out to write. Her director-"guru" may have given her strategy but neither creativity nor maturity can be defined or constrained by it. Nor can it be monitored as the play suggests.

Yet in its favour the play underscores the rumble and tumble business of theatre, which is an altogether different ball game than the theatre itself. Commercial theatre, television and even films, both here at home and famously in Hollywood have analysts study the market and hedge money on the next likely 'hit' or even in churning out B-films simply because the money to be made has been calculated. Those like our director who have been out there know what tickles their audience but are hardly the wiser for it. MH12J16 is an astute play. It has a quicksilver wit, repartee, a taut pace, and a good show from its cast. Everything else is well, a little too formulaic and frothy.

Deepa Punjani is the editor of this website.

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