Deepa Karmalkar

Direction : Lakshvir Singh Saran
Writer : Lakshvir Singh Saran
Cast : Abhijeet Singh , Anya Ghai , Pranjal Vaid , Shimli Basu


This play is designed to unfold in restricted space, almost in a cubbyhole. Paradoxically, the story of BAAGEECHA is about occupying space â€" about Balwant (Abhijeet Singh), school principal who has recently moved into this house with an attached garden. He objects vehemently to an unemployed young poet, Musafir (Pranjal Vaid) residing in the outhouse in the garden for the past 11 years. There is apparently no reason for Balwant to feel threatened by the peaceful, free-spirited young poet who even tends to the garden quietly. Yet Balwant is hell bent on ousting this harmless tenant.

Balwant's collegian daughter Sana (Shimli Basu) is a music student who often wanders into the garden for riyaaz. She strikes a friendship with the philosophical poet and enjoys tête-à-tête with him. Musafir converses with the same ease with Balwant about his homeland Kashmir and the pink tea, as with Sana while telling her how much the birds in the garden enjoy her singing. Much to Balwant's distress, Musafir continues to live peacefully in the garden.

Balwant's proprietorial behavior stems from his conceited and egoistic temperament. He is so self-absorbed that he's unable to lend an ear to his daughter's creative voice. Sana, lonely and neglected, finds solace in her mother's (Anya Ghai) cajoling who has long left her oppressive husband. Is Balwant's boorishness now set to drive Sana as well as Musafir away? Is he doomed to loneliness of his own making?

Within the constraints of time (one hour duration) and space, the narrative touches upon various emotions playing out in the human mind â€" fear, insecurity, dejection, hope and desire. Yet it leaves some loose ends for the audience to pick. It stimulates the viewer to interpret the play independently. Isn't this precisely what the playwright and director of any experimental production set out to achieve?

The actors throw themselves into their parts with abandon, broadening the stage through their physical movements â€" be it Balwant squeezing through the bottom of the folding chair while searching for the television remote depicting his desperation or Musafir prowling about the garden signifying it as his natural habitat. Truly, the players pitch in their best. Sana's riyaaz could have been extended from mere taans to at least singing a few lines â€"leaves the audience wanting for more.

The narrative is made interesting by sound designer Kunwar Jarial, with loud noise of passing trains and chirping of birds in the garden. Set designer Vivek Jadhav converts a shaded green canvas sheet into the garden which in turn becomes the central character of the play. It is one of those non-commercial plays that has the potential to seed a box-office spinner.

Deepa Karmalkar is a senior journalist, features writer and reviewer

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