On World Theatre Day, Feast on These Timeless Stories That Mirror Our Social and Cultural Realities

27 Mar, 2022 15:06 IST|L Manisha

From Aeschylus to Shakespeare to the story-tellers of today, there exists an unbroken continuum of stories  that help us to not just escape this world but also see its realities. On World Theatre Day, Zee Theatre celebrates this very legacy of theatre as a storyteller, and a chronicler of  social, cultural, political and spiritual truths, with a spread of incisive, insightful and thought-provoking plays across multiple genres and themes. Here is an overview of the stories that are both contemporary and timeless:

Court Martial

At a time when caste-based prejudices were not  widely addressed in the arts, Swadesh Deepak, one of the most respected contemporary playwrights, novelists and short-story writers, wrote 'Court-Martial' in 1991.  This searing play is considred to be a pathbreaking comment on caste discrimination. 'Court Martial' tells the story of a junior ranked army man, Ramchander, who inexplicably picks up his gun one day and  shoots down two of his senior officers. His defense lawyer Vikas Roy senses that this is not just an open-and-shut case, decides to dig deeper into the  motive behind  the crime and stumbles  upon a truth that shocks him. One of the most performed  plays in contemporary  Hindi literature,  ‘Court Martial’ is  a taut legal drama, an exploration of the justice system and the study of an unequal society.  

Directed by Sourabh Shrivastava and Karwarkar Bhavika, the play stars Rajeev Khandelwal, Govind Pandey, Bhagwaan Tiwari,  Saksham Dayma and Swapnil Kotriwar. It  will be screened on Dish and D2H Rangmanch Active and Airtel Spotlight. 

Wrong Turn

This play asks some important questions like, "Who gets to define the meaning of justice and to dispense punishment?"    Inspired by Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 novel,  'A Dangerous Game', or  'Die Panne', and its premise of a mock-trial,  Ranjit Kapoor has penned a compelling psychological drama about a stranger who  walks into an old house to seek shelter on a stormy night and finds a few retired lawyers amusing themselves with a game that he agrees to join. As the mock trial progresses however, he realises that the stakes are higher than he thought and if found guilty, he would have to pay an unthinkable price. With every accusation, a new secret is revealed and the truth behind the seemingly innocent game shocks not just Arun but the audience.

Directed by  Ishan Trivedi, the plays stars  Govind Namdev, Lalit Tiwari, Suneel Sinha, Liliput Faruqui,  Varun Badola, Suzzane Mukherjee, Anangsha Biswas, Shalini Sharma and Niraj Sah. It will be screened on TataPlay Theatre.

Bombed

Can a serious theme be explored with humour? This quirky tale of individual eccentricities, aspirations and intrigue pulls off this seemingly impossible feat. Written by Asha Duggal and Bobby Nagra, the play explores what happens when a befuddled young tenant, an unpredictable land-lady, a cop chasing an international terror trail and an aspiring actor come together. Multiple stories collide and a comedy of error or maybe terror, emerges and shows us the external and inner realities of Zameer or Zed, Fiona, Yogi and Inspector Sudarshan Damle. With wit and insight, the play also touches upon issues like intolerance and shows the futility of living in a constant state of mistrust against the ‘other.’   
 
 Directed by Adaar Khurana, the play stars  Amey Wagh, Aseem Hattangady, Chaitnya Sharma, Lucky Vakharia, Prerna Chawla and Siddharth Kumar. It will be screened on Dish and D2H Rangmach Active.

Where did I leave my Purdah?

‘Where did I leave my Purdah?’ like most of playwright and director  Mahesh Dattani's  stories, brings forth realities we would rather not acknowledge.   On the surface, it is about  Nazia,  a fading theatre veteran whose  thriving repertory ‘Modern Theatre’ is now a part of history. On closer scrutiny, we find that the play is also about  unresolved pain and the untold stories of violence that countless women suffered during the Partition. Nazia’s resolve to revive her theatre company brings back the past, and  also Nikhat, her niece Ruby’s daughter. Circumstances force Nazia’s suppressed memories to tumble out and reveal the pain and horror that drives her life and her art. 
 
Directed by Mahesh Dattani, the play stars Sohaila Kapur, Divya Dutta, Swara Bhasker, Sunil Palwal and Deepal Doshi. It will be screened on Dish and D2H Rangmach Active.

Kahaani Mitra Ki

Same-sex relationships  do not get equal representation in story-telling even today but  in 1982, Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar penned 'Mitrachi Goshta', which is considered to be one of the first contemporary Indian plays about this  theme.  'Kahaani Mitra Ki', based on the Marathi play is  set in the pre-Independence era, in a Pune campus  where a conventional romance  takes an  unlikely turn when a triangle develops between three students; Bapu, Mitra and Nama. While Bapu is drawn to Mitra, the latter is attracted to  Nama who unfortunately causes her downfall. The play  is about the tragedy that social constructs unleash against individuals who don’t fit in. It is about sexual politics, betrayal and self-destruction in a society that does not understand unconventional relationships.   
 
Directed  by Akash Khurana, the play stars  Sayalee Phatak, Parna Pethe, Abhay Mahajan, Om Bhutkar and  Priyanshu Painyuli.It will be screened on TataPlay Theatre. 
 
Love

Love is a transformational force and so is creativity but this play examines what happens when  a  beautiful creation  comes to life and begins to challenge its creator. Will the creator be able to take it if  the  creation begins to express thoughts and emotions of its own? Are we to believe that nothing that we create belongs ultimately to us?  The play is also a comment on how scientific tools are taking over our life as it tells the story of  a man who  creates a robot to convince his interfering mother that he is getting married. But as the robot becomes increasingly self-willed, this strange love story takes  an unusual turn.  
 
Directed   by Karan Talwar, the play stars  Rajeev Siddhartha, Yuki Ellias, Shivam Patil, Sonali Sachdev,  Payal Nair, Nandini Sen, Priti Shroff and Suhani Gandhi. It will be screened on TataPlay Theatre.

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