Direction : Pralhad Kudtarkar, Sanket Tandel, Mahesh Keskar, Parag/ Krunal/ Sushil
Writer : Sanket Tandel


Ujwala Karmarkar

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As the title suggests, EK BAAKI EKAAKI, a production by Astitva, deals with loneliness that could plague us all. It seems appropriate here to recall the words of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami: "Why do people have to be this lonely? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?"


The writer of this play, Sanket Tandel, highlights the universality of loneliness with four separate episodes. The activity of a busy traffic intersection, the silence of a haunted mansion, the drawing room of a married couple and the tiny home of a young man living alone, are the four different settings chosen. Each of the characters is lonely and alleviates or expresses the loneliness in a way that is least expected by the viewer.

A cop at a traffic signal randomly chooses and stops traffic offenders and then draws them into a rambling, rather pointless conversation. At times, he bullies them into sharing a cup of tea, thereby prolonging his contact with his 'victim'. His craving for company is touching and amusing, although the means for achieving this end are rather devious. Towards the end, comes the realisation that being in a crowd does not insulate one from loneliness.

In stark contrast is the ghost of the haunted mansion who is desperately waiting for a human to haunt. His loneliness has been tempered by the hope of finding someone to haunt, and this is his sole purpose in afterlife. He passes time by rehearsing his ghostly behaviour. Sadly, the lone human who crosses the threshold turns out to be unflappable and unterrified by the ghost's antics. The ghost is left alone once more to contemplate his 'purpose'. Even the afterlife does not make one loneliness-proof, it would seem.

A 'happily-married' couple of twenty years is subjected to the truth of the dictum "In Vino Veritas". The wife, who rarely drinks, feels the effect of a few drinks and blurts out her innermost feelings. The shocked husband realises the depth of the pain, resentment and anger that she has managed to suppress all these years. The loneliness of her life amidst her apparent bliss is painfully evident.

The last is a situational comedy of a young man in a tiny room. He has spent his life fulfilling his filial duties. Free of his duties at last, he finds that instead of relief, he is engulfed by a feeling of loneliness and aimlessness. His conversation with a mouse who wanders around his house gives us a glimpse into his yearning for company and his need for purpose.

The play, which lasts for a little over an hour, veers between satire and dark humour. The different situations which are explored, give the viewer an insight into loneliness and the omnipresent need for purpose in life. Wherever we are, the human psyche craves company.

The play has more than one director. Parag Oza, Pralhad Kudtarkar, Mahesh Keskar, Sanket Tandel, Krunal Alve, Sushil have shared the task. The cast comprises Yashoman Apte , Rohit Mane, Bhavesh Titwalkar, Abhishek Gaonkar, Prashant Keni, Vibhav Rajadhyaksha, Yogita Ranade, who do a great job. Stark lighting, few actors and minimal props succeed in highlighting the theme of the play.

Humour keeps the viewers riveted, although the core message is a rather serious one. The situation with the ghost is well done and swings ably between hilarity and seriousness. The wife's outburst in the third story is restrained and convincing, although this situation could have been explored in more detail. The fourth story could have been shorter, as the repeated conversation with the invisible mouse was tedious.

On the whole, a good watch with a thought provoking theme.

*Ujwala Karmakar is an Anaesthesiologist by profession. She likes to watch plays, read, and listen to music among other things. Ujwala has also been writing on women's issues, parenting, travel, etc.

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