Existentialist life unfolds outside theatre

Santanu Bose’s play Kala Khatta Chuski Kholi Khokha Khopcha being enacted at NSD.

Santanu Bose’s play Kala Khatta Chuski Kholi Khokha Khopcha being enacted at NSD.

Santanu Bose’s play with the final year students bearing the unwieldy title Kala Khatta Chuski Kholi Khokha Khopcha was staged in a never before used space in the premises; the open area adjoining the Abhimanch theatre.

The play is primarily a visual collage of short stories, bringing out the pathos in human condition and not relying on poetic justice. The director focuses on short stories and sews the existentialist thread through the all the stories in the play. Each scene is depicted with sincerity and complete effect while thematically there is little connection between the stories. Perhaps, to generate the amorphous effect, the play was performed in the unusual space outside Abhimanch, to give it an open-ended feel.
Abhimanch’s windows open in the gallery-like space where a scene with the eunuchs is performed. In the course of the play, the balcony is used by Dawood Ibrahim to announce the wedding of his daughter to Javed Miandad’s son. And it also doubles as his hideout. It was also used as home of Sujata, the Punjabi girl Dawood falls for in his youth and but was rejected.
The play is inspired by short stories based in metropolitan cities. The major story is that of Dawood Ibrahim who ruled the Mumbai underworld for several years. The play depicts his conclaves with Haji Mastan and other underworld criminals to decide the fate of the enemy, the Pathans.
Action begins with two watchmen on duty, played by versatile actor Mukti Ravi Das who also essays the role of Dawood Ibrahim with ease and complete effect. His companion, the other watchman, Sunil Soni, is convinced that someone is going to die during the day. Soni also doubles as Sushma the hijra.
Rahman and Rahim are brothers living in a room postered with pictures of bodybuilders. Rahim is dumb and drives a scooter rickshaw. He is questioned by the police for a crime he did not commit. Unable to say anything he is tortured and beaten till he is dead.
The police, afraid and apathetic, packs his body in his auto rickshaw and parks it on a lonely stretch of a road.
Rahim’s desolate brother Rahman finds the vehicle and decides to ply it with the dead body. His first customer refuses to sit because of the strong smell. Rahman pretends to be his dumb brother Rahim. In the presence of the prostitute he suddenly says a few words. Hemang Vyas showed physical alertness and great presence of mind as Rahman and Rahim both.
In a domestic scene the woman loses her temper when she is bombarded with eggshells by her mother-in-law and husband for feeding her ailing son eggs in a vegetarian family.
In another sequence we come across a nymphet married to an impotent man. She manages to seduce the police inspector who is in charge of her case wherein she is accused of causing the death of her mother-in-law.
In another scene we see the wife of a drug addict, a man who is naked roaming on the streets, comes looking for him in a car.
She does not recognise him and leaves...Finally the naked man is helped by a gay person who poses a question to him: Will you take me? Imagining himself clad in the gay man’s clothes he agrees to go with him only to be robbed of his wallet too.
While it was easy to understand the Hindi spoken by Lhakpa Lepchas the dialogues uttered by the otherwise competent actress Purnima Yengkokpam were not proper Hindi.
The reason was perhaps the emphasis on wrong syllable.
The performance was very lively and hats off to Santanu Bose for an enjoyable experience of a play on the foibles of human nature which also points in the direction where changes can be made to make a good and happy life.

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