Director : Alok Rajwade
Writer : Dharmakirti Sumant
Cast : Abhay Mahajan, Omkar Gowardha, Suvrat Joshi, Pushkaraj Chirputkar, Dhanraj Narayankar, Laxmi Birajdar & others


Deepa Punjani

No upcoming shows.

There is plenty to rue about India for all its glorified and touted progress. There is much that is problematic and much that is wrong in spite of its 'shining' veneer. From the very beginning, the theatre has been a site to launch contradictions. Satire has been a powerful medium. In the 1950s, the theatre of the absurd for example stood in defiance against accepted mores, although its origins and developments arose out of more particular contexts, such as the aftermath of the Second World War.

Dharmakirti Sumant's BIN KAMACHE SANVAD can be viewed as a satire and a play that has modelled itself on the theatre of the absurd. The play's protagonist Bhosanka (Abhay Mahajan) - representative of the Everyman struggles to settle on a mobile phone. No sooner than his choice is made, he finds himself as an onlooker-contestant in a show played out on his smart phone. The other contestants are a porn star, a 'Common Man', a saffronised youth, a newspaper man and an up and about man in sports gear, wielding a racket. The contestants' showcase is punctuated by a young couple who mime out their relationship- their actions perhaps intended to mock the superficialities of modern-day relationships, buttressed by the consumables they gift each other.

As you read between the lines in the play, you find an underlying critique of a country that is numbed and dumbed by consumerism, which has overtaken all aspects of its society and culture. The critique is political and cultural - particularly significant in the context of the massive victory of the Bharatiya Janta party (BJP) in the last election and of the man at its helm, Narendra Modi.

A great morass has set in. In the play's view, words are no longer relevant and purposeful, hence 'bin kaamache sanvad'. But is it so irrelevant after all? The passionate monologue about Pune at the beginning conjures up the real and the imagined space of the playwright's resident city, its history, and its landmarks, old and new, in relation and counter-relation to each other. Pune effectively is symbolic of the transforming microcosms of the country that are plunging ahead, albeit randomly, without any vision or plan.

This promising start is dwindled. The script increasingly begins to be tiresome and presumptuous. In a particular sequence, penetrating philosophers, among them, Noam Chomsky and Slavoj Zizek are name dropped. Somewhere, in the middle of the play, it becomes more exhausting than provoking; the play's intellectual credibility weakened, precisely because it is not anchored in something more solid and rooted. This is a pattern that has also besieged the playwright's earlier work- PAANI and GELI EKVEES VARSHA.

Overall the performance can do with a better tempo and more enthusiasm from the anchor of the show. These are little things that can be easily cured. The bigger and greater question is of its text. Its interstitial framework is commendable but its intellectual gymnastics belie its greater purpose - that talk has lost its meaning in a climate of self-centredness, the incessant chatter of the social media, intolerance and moral turpitude. Even the theatre is not spared. This self-mocking aspect in which a character posing as an audience member faints after a long monologue is not without irony, as are some of the humourous moments in the play, such as the voting scene.

Bhosanka's role is reduced to the sidelines. Perhaps this is deliberate but it is without any graph. In the final picture, the play boomerangs. Its remarkable cornerstone steeped in the futility of words and language need not have been so futile after all.

*Deepa Punjani is the Editor of this website.

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