They say you can regret your words, but never your silence. Indeed, silence sometimes speaks much louder than words, caressing softly when the starkness of words fails. Aptly named Khamoshi Sili Sili (the damp silence), this play has a similar impact on the audiences. The musical softly and gradually takes the audience on a journey that discovers the covert lives of people from the Kashmiri Pandit community, for some of whom a reverberating silence has become the best way to communicate sorrow.
This play is a translation of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ written by Joseph Stein. NSD Repertory Company’s Khamoshi Sili Sili is a Hindi musical that deals with the displacement of communities and is deftly bound to the Kashmiri situation in our country. Prithvi Nath loves his daughters, and goes against the traditional norms, allowing them to marry men of their choice. However, he cannot come to terms with and accept the elopement of Shuhul, his third daughter, who chooses to marry a Muslim.
The play boasts of evocative and luminous performances by National School of Drama actors, who sway and rivet the audiences with their dancing and revelry throughout. There is only a mere hint of sorrow every now and then on the deteriorating situation in Kashmir, which eventually builds up into a climax where the Kashmiri Pandits are shown as leaving the valley and their homes. The director, Suresh Sharma (who is a trained actor from New Delhi’s National School of Drama), has skilfully interlaced the contemporary Kashmiri issue with the larger central theme of displaced communities.
The translator of the play Asif Ali Haider Khan currently teaches Modern Indian Drama at the National School of Drama. The Repertory Company was established in 1964 with only four members and it is the regular performing wing of the school. Together, Suresh Sharma’s skilful direction, Asif Ali’s expert translation, the actors’ magnificent performances, and Kajal Ghosh’s brilliant music score have given the audiences the most wonderful medley and assortment of stage performances in recent times. Indeed, Khamoshi Sili Sili is one of the gems that the ongoing 8th Theatre Olympics has brought forth to Mumbai theatre audiences.