“Adhantar “meaning suspended halfway , was staged by (National School of Drama) NSD’s final year students at Abhimanch, NSD throughout the last week of November 2014 under the Direction of Aniruddha Khutwad. Originally written in Marathi by the eminent author,Jayant Pawar, the play has been translated into Hindi by Kailash Sengar.
“I felt so engrossed and suspended in my thoughts after watching this illuminating play that I had to watch it twice to get over with its first hangover and I wish I could watch it again and again in the coming days too.”
The play ‘Adhantar’ represents the struggle of a family where the basic need of daily bread has become a thing of utmost prominence and human relationships have taken a setback. It shows the ripple effect of Mumbai Mills’ strike during 1980s on its million plus workers living a shattered life and the sudden transition of Mills to Malls and skyscrapers thereby creating a huge rift between the rich and the poor. It is about the demise of dreams of a middle class family due to unfavorable events and the constant individual struggle to find peace, meaning, honor and love in their lives. The story revolves around the lives of diverse members of a Mill worker’s family. Every member’s life has been influenced by the events happening around them and each of them have their own share of harsh struggles and unfulfilled desires.
Character Analysis :
Aai (Mother) is the pivotal character of the play as she is the senior most person in the family and is a caretaker of her home as well. A widow in her 50s , she looks after her three sons as well her daughter who still lives them after marriage. Aai’s husband was a Mill worker too but died due to prolonged illness. She is responsible for all the household chores and also does part time work as a dabba(lunch) maker to support her family. She is dissatisfied with her sons as none of them have a job and is always on her toes to keep her family intact. Bhumika Dubey fits aptly into the character and has done justice to her challenging role . She should have worked more upon her dialogues and added more flavors to make it a memorable character. The last howling scene of Aai especially didn’t come out well and couldn’t make the desired impact with the audience.
The role of Baba , the eldest son, has been played superbly by Yatendra Bahuguna and the audience couldn’t stop themselves from clapping hands after each of his dialogue. The overdose of intellect and humor struck the right chord and there was conviction in this character throughout. It was a complete joy to watch him justify his intellectual superiority over his family and his intense literary discussions with Satish, his friend, after being drunk was another major attraction of the play. Naru is the second son who is uneducated and has become a goon now. Satyender should be lauded for such a remarkable comic display of a criminal. But I felt there was an unnecessary overuse of curses and swear words as a result of which sometimes the dialogues’ punches got faded away. Moreover during the last scene when he brings her sister home, he comes up in front of the stage twice and then rushes to hit her while other members hold him back and it all looked unreal and could have been better.
Piyush Dhumkedar as Mohan was an equally engrossing character. A jobless son who has been struggling for long to find employment does nothing but listen Cricket commentary all day long on transistor. His chemistry with Mami, her neighbour(played by Nalini Joshi, a guest artist) and in fact with all the other characters was well executed.
Manju is a very interesting character and many such portrayals have been done in other Indian literary and cinematic works. Aprajita Dey dived into this character effortlessly and her Marathi accent too came out well. She is very pleasing to watch throughout the play, even when she is not saying any dialogues and managing her hair. Although she is a sweet and lively character but she is quite bold as well and in her pursuit of finding love and riches, she doesn’t hesitate to go into a sexual relationship with a wealthy married neighbor. On disclosure of her pregnancy and her misdeeds, her family wed her forcibly to a widower Rane who has no time for her and is mostly drunk and engaged in his own world. Rane’s character as a man of honor who is fighting for the rights of Mill workers has been brilliantly executed by Vipin Kumar. The character of Dabbewala looked out of the place and it was not required at all. The role of Butter as an assitant to Rane , failed to establish itself in the play and became a loose end.
All hell breaks loose for this family on the auspicious day of their father’s death anniversary when Manju’s illicit affair gets exposed, Naru gets arrested for murder and everything becomes unstable jeopardizing their future. The play ends with every character lying suspended halfway in their struggles… Adhantar…Lastly , a white curtain comes down and a short clipping is shown on the transition of Mills to Malls with a Marathi poem being sung in background.
The most absorbing element of this play is the 3D set design. A single room with diagonal front face was properly built up to show the poor conditions of the family. Attached bathroom, kitchen and gallery were used innovatively. The single bed on the stage has been used by every character to rest or sleep.The set is also well supported by lighting. The ray of dim red light coming from window to the bed to show transition of day was a good idea. Even the light used behind the door was a major highlight of the play and the scenes of Aai combing Majnu’s hair and the scene between Manju and Raney became lively with this back-light’s advantage.
Costumes were completely in tune with the essential requirements of the characters . The era of 80s was brought alive in the auditorium. The Music of the play is commendable too. The sound of Mill hooter, The Radio commentary/songs and the background music effectively built up the scenes.
As the play ended, the audience gave a standing ovation to the cast of the play and as the continuous sound of the applause was echoing in the auditorium , I felt a great sense of gratitude towards the whole Production team of NSD for bringing out this masterpiece and making my day. The world of Theater is beautiful indeed !