Do you recall those plays from high school?
‘Et tu, Brute?’
‘The Bishop’s Candlesticks’
Yes, not so much.
The backdrop was a setting of a small fort with an elevated pedestal and a projection screen behind.
It was the clash of two art forms, the real and the representation. The play ‘Gazab Teri Adaaa’, performed by National School of Drama Repertory Company, was a commemoration to the lives lost in the World Wars. A play to show how painful war is and how peace is a state of mind, just a thought away to reach.
I never thought that I could enjoy a play anymore. After all the movies, I have watched in theaters, and the flash drives I have filled with pirated versions of films in 720p, I wasn’t ready to face this event. I was uptight with many thoughts of what could go wrong in the play.
‘Will anyone forget their rehearsed lines?’
‘I hope the set is strong enough not to break or fall in the middle of the play.’
Honestly, I was apprehensive of any damp squib.
Scene – I
As the curtain rose, the floor fell silent. It was supposed to be a 100 minutes play (without any interval).
A few breaths later, there were drumbeats and a slow narration to provide the backdrop. A group of seven women entered the stage from the right and stood in the middle, a perfect formation. Those initial moments made the impression.
The play was a tragic comedy, pulling emotional chords in a subtle and amusing way. The central theme of the play was women revolting against men, who were soldiers, to stop wars and spoils of wars.
The women wore traditional saris and were holding bells in their hands. They all sang in unison, like the birds at dawn at the acme of their might with a mellifluous voice that settles and eases every mind. I wondered how DTS or Dolby could produce this extent of reality. The males, on the other hand, were in regal Rajput outfits with appropriate props.
The lithe expressions of the performers were complementing their songs. They were swaying with the storyline, and their faces wore a hundred masks reflecting every mood.
There was so much of life on the stage. All the characters were in their final enactment after umpteen rehearsals. It is a place where the actor cannot go wrong; there is no room for a retake. It’s a perfectionist’s play, a refined role where the actors relive in a different character for the next hour. It is where the skin and costume take a backbench and the expressions demand your exaltation.
The play had the traditional and indigenous folklore, with a tinge of lexicon, it was like a slice of the rich past with characters breathing life into it. The costumes were reminiscent of the cultural heritage of India. It was a perfect ambiance set for a laid-back evening.
There was a uniformity in the lighting with timely drop of spotlights in between. In fact, the mild salmon pink hue from the sodium-vapor lights was quite easy on the eyes and even worked well with the costumes.
The sound was clear and audible with perfect intonations. I wasn’t sure about the sound amplification, but I believe it was completely natural, with a little digital effort maybe.
The match cuts were also quite smooth and connecting. Technically speaking, the setting seemed perfect for the performers to blend in.
Meanwhile, few montages of the wars were screened intermittently on the projection screen in the background. But I couldn’t connect, the screen suddenly became a distant relative as the reality in the foreground began to establish a sync to my mind.
In fact, the fast pacing socio-cultural evolution has endangered such art forms, where every coming generation is having a far more faint memory of the plays than the one before. There is an influx of the demography into the digital age and traditional art forms are becoming a thing of history.
At the end of the show, I strangely felt responsible for preserving this heritage and pass on the baton.
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