Jogiyā Rāg

Group: Anushthan (Mumbai)

Director: Devendra Raj Ankur

Story: Vijay Pandit




Group: Setu Sanskritik Kendra (Varanasi)

Director: Saleem Raja

Dramatization: Pratima Sinha

Story: Mannu Bhandari



The 13th edition of Little Thespian’s National Theatre Festival, now named Jashn-e-Azhar, brought participating groups from Mumbai, Delhi, Varanasi and Ujjain. Tripurari Sharma’s Rup Arup under Unicorn (Delhi) had visited us in its original avatar for Shabdaakaar with the same cast in 2011, while Abhinav (Ujjain) staged a translation of Sartre’s Respectful Prostitute, but a couple of Hindi short stories dramatized left an impact this year.


The brochures credited Vijay Pandit as the playwright of Jogiyā Rāg, but in fact he wrote it as a story. Director Devendra Raj Ankur, with his vast experience in establishing fiction presented verbatim on stage as a separate genre, made an excellent choice of this text for Anushthan (Mumbai). Pandit relates the mismatch of an arranged marriage, the husband’s disinterest in conjugal ties, his desire to become a Jogi, and his departure. The wife continues to hope for his return in vain. After several years, a band of Jogis shows up in the village, she identifies one of them as him, and he affirms his identity. However, he tells her later that he isn’t her husband, he just no longer wanted to lead the life of a Jogi. Ankur’s sensitivity and the pas de deux of Nidhi Mishra and Mukti R. Das at complementary poles of involvement and detachment respectively (photo) ensure that Jogiyā Rāg never slides into sentimentality.


Mannu Bhandari’s “Majburi” provides the source for Moh, dramatized by Pratima Sinha for Setu Sanskritik Kendra (Varanasi). This familiar school text depicts a grandmother’s overwhelming love for her grandson placed in her care by his parents expecting their second child in Mumbai. She spoils him silly and never disciplines him, shocking the parents out of their wits when they revisit. Saleem Raja directs his actors well, with Kusum Mishra perfect as the grandmother, though I find it hard to accept in this day and age that she would bottle-feed milk to a grown boy—of course, Bhandari herself thought up this funny detail.


16 February 2024