Rang fest splashes Delhi with genius


Arjun Ka Beta, staged by the Film and Theatre Society at their Rang festival, written and directed by Atul Satya Kaushik, was an attractive piece on Abhimanyu, who the Pandavas let get caught in the Chakravyuha created by the Kauravas during the Mahabharata. With Arjun away the only other prison who knows anything about the Chakravyuha is his son Abhimanyu. The Pandavas were aware of the fact that he was in his mother’s womb when he heard Arjun describe the secret of the entry into the martial formation, but also that his mother fell asleep when Arjun was telling her the way out of the Chakravyuha, and so he could not hear it.
In the initial 10 minutes or so, we see only the back of Abhimanyu sitting and preparing for the fight. He describes his meeting with the Pandava elders who promise to be there for their nephew when he is trying to get out of the Chakravyuha. Then we see the battle scene with Abhimanyu fighting the saptarathis, or seven of the Kauravas’ greatest warriors. When Arjun returns, he asks Yudhishthir if he and the brothers were right in sending 15-year-old Abhimanyu to fight in the Chakravyuha. The script has Bhishmapitamah’s comments and Uttara, the widow of the slain warrior, with her lament. The finale features Lord Krishna, who comes and tells everyone that the Pandavas were not wrong in sending Abhimanyu whom destiny had already marked out for death. With the facts at his disposal, Atul writes an excellent script. His direction is enlivened a great deal by using the body for emotive purposes. His work is very different from run-of-the-mill theatre. His main actor Sahil, who plays both Abhimanyu and Yudhishthir, has a supple body and mobile face. He plays both the roles convincingly.
Rahasya Pancham Ved Ka was directed by V.K. and Kiron Sharma and presented by Ramjas School (Pusa Road) at the SRC. The play throws light on the fifth Ved, the Natya Shastra written hundreds of years ago by Bharat muni. Incited by a boy from a purely academic school who asks the boys who are keen on theatre as to why do they want to do theatre the boys ask their teacher in a song: “Hum natak kyon karte hain?” The lyrics written by V.K. in a simple language are the strongest part of the production. The play was well acted by the entire cast of nearly one hundred children, it was an attractive show well-handled by the couple.
The action veered between the historical telling of the origin of the Natya Shastra and the students reaction to the revelations, it was neatly done by both the directors who have been doing excellent theatre for children and with children for over 20 years. They raise some relevant questions in their note in the brochure. “Why do people do theatre? Why is theatre important for children? How can we pass on the benefits of theatre to people in general and children in particular? NCERT tried to do it, but could not because of a lack of the basic infrastructure and trained dramas teachers. And of course, because drama needs a lot of time and money.”

NDLS, sketches on city transport and the city, was staged by the Tadpole Repertory Company in their space at Panchsheel Park. The sketches were full of ironic humour. Starting with a video presentation, titled Death of Modernism, which depicted Delhi in all its shades from morning to night subtitled A Fantasy City. This was followed by the crooner Samar Grewal who sang two songs in the same tone of gentle irony.

Civil Lines was the recitation of localities in Old Delhi, with regular types getting into the metro. Underwear shopping was ridiculously funny, as were Armchair Cricket and An Auto Ride In the 3rd Wheel. In Being Careful, the actress is about to step out and she keeps reminding herself that she must be careful as she gets dressed. First wrapping multicoloured shawls around her body she proceeds to wear three or four pyjamas and three or four vests and as many shirts, topping it with a dress and a coat before stepping out. Mallika Taneja excelled as the woman who keeps mumbling to herself about why she must be careful.

The last sketch, Wearing a Coat, saw a man waiting interminably for someone at the airport with a bouquet. He is formally dressed in a coat. A friend comes up and ridicules his coat. The man tells him that he is waiting for his aunt who is conservative and hence the coat and flowers. The story he has told the girl who meets him first is that he is there to receive cheerleaders for the cricket match being played in the city. Finally the girl who gets off the plane is someone who has a history with him and she goes off with the other man. The man is well-portrayed by Neil Choudhuri, the head of the repertory company. The other actors were very efficient too.

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