Direction : Feroz khan
Writer : Arthur Miller
Cast : Satish Kaushik, Seema Biswas, Kishore Kadam


Aditi Sharma


The Prithvi theatre festival 2013 opened with Feroze Abbas Khan's production SALESMAN RAMLAL. In his introduction to the play, director Feroze Abbas Khan starts off with the words, "SALESMAN RAMLAL is a very contemporary play." Unfortunately, what Khan means by 'contemporary' is difficult to understand when he presents the life of a toy salesman to an Internet generation. SALESMAN RAMLAL is a Hindustani adaptation of Arthur Miller's classic DEATH OF A SALESMAN. To put things in perspective, Miller's play first came on stage in 1949. Unfortunately, 66 years later, when Ramlal plays out his story, he fails to evoke as much sympathy; forget empathy.

SALESMAN RAMLALAt the beginning of the play, when Ramlal expresses concerns, rather aggressively, about his elder son's future and laments the fact that his progeny wastes time in remote villages instead of building a well-paying career, he sounds like a middle-class father from the 1980s. Not that being a bum has become cool these days, but aren't there more youngsters pursuing alternate careers, and doing quite well for themselves today? As a production, Salesman Ramlal fails to contextualise the times it's being presented in even though it purportedly belongs to the here and now. Cricket will always remain a popular sport in this country so that reference sticks but grouses against the real estate devastation of this city have been heard too many times before.

On the cast front, Salesman Ramlal clearly belongs to Satish Kaushik and he does a fantastic job as a bumbling, yet hopeful, salesman about town. With Kaushik, however, there is the imminent danger of Bollywood-isation but with some effort one could ignore that. The rest of the cast, including the fantastic Seema Biswas, is completely wasted. The characters aren't given enough moments to build connections with the audience and they just seem to fill stage space when Kaushik isn't around. Not quite the stuff you'd expect on the opening night of a theatre festival that is struggling to revive its popularity.

*Aditi Sharma enjoys watching theatre and writing about it.

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