Moteram Ka Satyagrah depicts sycophancy during British rule

Actors on stage during the performance of Moteram Ka Satyagrah.

Actors on stage during the performance of Moteram Ka Satyagrah.

The play Moteram Ka Satyagrah was staged by Sparsh Natya Rang at the annual Hriday Festival of plays written by Habib Tanvir and Safdar Hashmi.

The play is based on Munshi Premchand’s story where he speaks about the forced sycophancy of Indians under the British rule. It was staged by the Asmita group in the direction of Arvind Gaur. The music, as much of it came across from the chorus where there are several tuneless voices, was composed by Dr Sangeeta Gaur.
The play is set in Varanasi, one time Benaras, where the entire town is decorating itself for the coming visit of the Viceroy, according to his instructions sent to the magistrate.
The town wants to go on a hartal to protest against the magistrate’s orders. To prevent the hartal, the Magistrate hires the services of a brahmin, Moteram Shastri. He is supposed to keep a fast in protest against the hartal.
Moteram is in dire straits as he can only think of food. He overcomes several temptations to break the fast but finally succumbs to the food brought by the opponents of the magistrate’s plan.
Asmita was good in the understanding of political and religious implications in the script. The fact that that a Brahmin is called to keep a fast shows the tie-up between the ruling classes.
The British feel they can trust the brahmin to go against the wishes of the people. Then there is the clerical group that the British trust completely. The enactment was good full of energy.
The sequence of the magistrate’s visit to the prostitute showed up the fact that women were also against the British.
The British magistrate played by Ishwar Singh Bajrang was very amusing. In fact, the humour element was in full play with Moteram well enacted by Shiv Chauhan. Shilpi Maarwah is a live wire in every Asmita production.
Finally to return to the chorus where the energy is appreciable. But the music gets lost in the screaming frenzy that most of the actors indulge in. And non-singers scream the loudest, putting the music on the back burner. I agree that the message is important, but then there should be singers or those actors who can carry a tune. The chorus ruins many Asmita productions.
Noises Off is a 1982 play by the English playwright Michael Frayn. The idea for it came in 1970, when Frayn was watching from the wings a performance of The Two of Us, a farce that he had written for Lynn Redgrave.
He said, “It was funnier from behind than in front, and I thought that one day I must write a farce from behind”.
The prototype, a short-lived one-act play called Exits, was written and performed in 1977. At the request of his associate, Michael Codron, Frayn expanded this into what would become Noises Off. It takes its title from the theatrical stage direction indicating sounds coming from offstage.
The play was staged by the Company Theatre in Atul Kumar’s direction. It was a slick comedy with all the required gusto and energy put in by the actors. The opening and shutting of doors is the leitmotif of the play which is very popular in the theatrical world. The rear of the stage was the highlight in terms of performance which was slapstick in style with people banging against each other and falling down and lots of drunkenness which was evident in the second act with the women actors particularly. Their behaviour was eccentric to say the least. The play was a success because of the sheer power of the script and the direction by Atul.

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