In a small cellar, a few men are waiting for the hour of murder. A great man has to be killed but, as the minutes pass, one of them begins to have doubts. What follows is a mock trial on the activities of their targets, from his insistence on the equality of religions to his use of fasting as a political tool. “The arguments and counter-arguments would resonate with many of us today who are concerned about burning sociopolitical issues,” says MK Raina. Last year he had staged Kafan-Kafan Chor, based on Munshi Premchand’s Kafan and Kashmiri writer Amin Kamil’s Kafan Chor, with Three Arts Club, Delhi’s oldest theatre group. He returns to the group for Hatya Ek Aakar Ki, written by Lalit Sehgal. Excerpts:
I am doing four plays on Mahatma Gandhi this year — Stay Yet A While; Hatya Ek Aakar Ki; Satyagraha Ashram: Bawla to Bapu, and a fourth play that we are still finalising. The idea was to look at Bapu from various perspectives. Stay Yet A While (staged on October 2 in Delhi) has intellectual shades to it as it is based on letters exchanged between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. Hatya Ek Aakar Ki has contemporary shades to it because we are talking about issues such as communalism. Satyagraha Ashram: Bawla to Bapu is directed for children.
I have not done a play on Gandhi before but Gandhi is my rock star. I have been reading him and books on him for many years. I do a cultural course at IIT Bhilai and IIT Hyderabad in which I look at the diversity of India. I tackle this through theatre and start from the Bhakti movement, go on to the 1857 movement and, then, the non-violent movement and freedom struggle. One thread that runs common is the idea of pluralism. All religions and races were fighting together. While 1857 was a violent movement, Gandhi’s struggle was the most non-violent one.
We don’t get into a play straightaway. We have four actors in Hatya Ek Aakar Ki, essaying the roles of the assassins. I went through a workshop with them. We discussed and read the material and news of contemporary political and social problems. The play is the last stage. Before that, we talk about all kinds of things and the history of our country.
I believe that a play should be easy to roll up and travel to whatever venue we get. This play is conversation driven. The set is made up of three chairs and one table. It is a small room, like a den, where the assassins are hiding before they go to kill the man. We have attempted to create the look of a cellar with lights. Hatya Ek Aakar Ki will be staged at SRC on October 6 and 7, at 6.30 pm. Donor passes: Rs 200 and Rs 100 at venue and Bookmyshow