MANUSHYA Play Review

Tarun Agarwal

Direction : Makarand Deshpande
Writer : Makarand Deshpande
Cast : Makarand Deshpande, Abhijeet Chavhan, Aakanksha Gade, Aashish Gade, Esha De, Himangi Shukla, Sowmya Bali, Sushil


When we look at the dominance of political parties in debates on ideologies, we see them whitewash the sins and drawbacks of their thinking. Political parties do not allow debates in public on their shortcomings. Thus, it is important for independent artists to critically review ideologies. MANUSHYA, written by Makarand Deshpande, astutely presents the shortcomings of those who follow both non-violent and violent ideologies. There are many points that the play covers, not only showcasing the unending violence of those who have adopted the right wing way of life, but also shows the violence and division that is embedded in those who follow the rightful path. The play also depicts the unspoken suffering of those who work for right wing political parties to get a sense of identity, but who remain secondary citizens in their own party.

MANUSHYA is set in the world of a family that is torn apart by political leanings. An affectionate uncle-niece relation turns into one filled with pain because of differences in ideology. The family also faces the consequences of having a family member who steadfastly follows the path of truth. There are many happenings that test the unity and ethics of the family - such as how they should treat a prostitute who has played an instrumental role in saving the patriarch of the family by taking him to the hospital in time.

The timing of the play makes it a success. The writing can be made a bit more accessible to the lay viewer in future editions. Perhaps, there could be a few explanatory sentences to make it easy for a passive audience to understand the plot points.

The actors get plenty of scope to perform. Makarand's act as a jester showcases not only his confidence in engaging with the audience but also his extremely fit body. The other actors are also convincing in their respective roles. Abhijeet Chavan stands out in his performance as a firebrand activist of a violence-friendly ideology who also has tremendous affection for his left-leaning niece.

MANUSHYA gets Makarand to don the character of a jester through whom we see the story of a house that comes close to being torn apart due to differing points of view. Aptly titled, it shows the conflicts of the human condition.

(Tarun Agarwal is the author of a book, Hope Factory).

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