Direction : Vinay Varma
Writer : Dr. Shankar Shesh
Cast : Vinay Verma, Poonam Chandan and Sirish Ghoshal


Deepa Karmalkar

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Playwright Shankar Shesh had a penchant for re-inventing mythology. To his credit are several interpretations of the key characters of the Mahabharata" from Dronacharya to Gandhari. In this play too, he is inspired by the mythical demon Raktabeej, whose every blood drop creates another replica of his. So imagine a war where his battle wounds produce myriads of his replicas!

But this is no costume drama. Shesh picks up the central theme and contemporises it in modern settings. He narrates two tales of how people abuse relationships, exploit others for their selfish gains, and instead of accruing any benefits from their machinations, end up facing trials in life. The first one is the story of a corporate climber who gambles away his pretty wife to gain favours and the second story is about two brilliant scientists craving for recognition and celebrity, and both of them stoop to base levels for achieving their dreams. Do the means justify the end? The playwright drives home the law of karma" as you sow, so shall you reap.

While the stories are interesting, the plots are very predictable. Also the popping up of the inner voices of each character, again and again, gets a little tiresome. The play was written in the past century, so the female characters are assigned secondary, supportive and at the most, ornamental roles.

The spontaneous performance of the cast of this Hyderabad-based production, is the saving grace of the play; it keeps the audience in their seats. However the director's parsimony in keeping the set minimalistic adds to the monotony of the proceedings; also the recurring 'inner voice' donning the long coat becomes intolerable towards the end. The director could have tweaked the narrative a bit, and at least embellished it with changing sets to keep the onlookers engaged. The backstage department's contribution is conspicuously missing here! Music, lights, props, sets are totally deficient in the play. So, Shesh's fight against exploitation and unethical means, is lost in the staging. That is not at all flattering to this playwright of note. Perhaps this play in the hands of an abler director might salvage the spirit of the play.

*Deepa Karmalkar is a film and theatre reviewer. She has been an entertainment journalist for over fifteen years.

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