DOSH | TAJ MAHAL KA UDGHATAN

Group: Padatik / rikh-

Director: Vinay Sharma

 

 

Dosh

Dramatist: Vinay Sharma

 

 

Taj Mahal kā Udghātan

Dramatist: Ajay Shukla

Review:

Padatik / rikh-, like several other groups, have revived their interrupted pre-pandemic productions as well as mounted a brand-new play. Vinay Sharma’s two-hander titled Dosh features Mumbai actors Harsh Khurana and Sarika Singh, which means that performances can occur more easily in Mumbai than in Kolkata. Therefore, viewers should catch the opportunity to see them this weekend (June 11-12) before they fly home.

For the two siblings in their fifties, life seems to dwell more in their shared past than in their troubled present rife with family tension or their uncertain future as they choose new roads to travel. Their memories converge on their authoritarian father and their studentships in 1960s America, where they had participated independently in the same scientific experiment. Both these recollections, revealed gradually as the dialogue meanders, involve violence and their reactions to it.

Khurana and Singh (in the photo), seasoned artists in Hindi theatre, not only bring ample experience to their parts, but also express the inner lives with subtlety – thanks to Sharma’s script and direction, which allow them this kind of rare exploration, since nothing external happens. As “memory plays” go, the fault-excavation in Dosh is faultless and memorable.

 

To train “a new team of actors without inhibitions or baggage” (as the director’s note states) after the lockdown, Sharma selects Taj Mahal kā Udghātan, Ajay Shukla’s sequel to his hilarious 1990s satire, Taj Mahal kā Tender. The ensemble doubles (in one case quintuples) roles effortlessly and, as the phrase went in the previous century, “with gay abandon”. It inaugurates Sharma’s “Theatre in Jeans” programme of unplugged actors-only theatre, stripped of budgetary demands.

Shukla may not have attained on Udghātan the same heights he did with Tender, but the targets of politicians and corruption remain just as relevant and timeless. Indeed, he could not have possibly foreseen the ludicrous recent efforts to unearth what lies beneath the Taj. In his sequel, Aurangzeb (even more controversial today) has great difficulty in getting his Chief Engineer to finish his father’s incomplete monument, what with the Supreme Court’s interventions and Dara Shukoh’s rebellion. So he has to contest the elections to secure his position. But Sharma’s new ending does not convince me entirely.

The interchanging of actors for Aurangzeb (Subham Singh) and the Engineer (Rohit Basfore) after the interval underscores the ability of just about anyone to gain power. But the presence of only one actress (Puspita Patra), however good, suggests the need for many more to achieve a semblance of casting equilibrium.