As someone has rightly said, “Theatre doesn’t last. Only in people’s memories and in their hearts. That’s the beauty and sadness of it. But that’s life – beauty and sadness. And that is why theatre is life.”
Taking a slice of life from the fractured lives of people in the Kashmir valley and of those affected by the state of affairs in other parts of the country, Pashmina – a play by Delhi theatre group Treasure Art Association – makes a poignant comment on the Kashmiri situation, slowly leaving its mark in the memories and hearts of audiences, just as the stories filtering in from the valley do.
This play was staged at the ongoing 3-play theatre festival organized by the Sanhita Manch last evening. Sanhita Manch is a theatre festival organized by the Mumbai-based theatre group Being Association, which is founded by an NSD graduate Rasika Agashe, with a focus to keeping the tradition, spirit, and soul of theatre alive and creating social awareness through this medium. In its second edition, it brings three plays to the audiences of Mumbai, Delhi and Amritsar – Nirala, Harus Marus and Pashmina. These plays have been selected by Ranjit Kapur and Atul Tiwari of NSD from a pool of about 100 scripts they received as entries this year. The selection is based on the following parameters: the style of writing, original content, and novelty.
Harus Marus is a satire where the writer literally creates a mob of rats searching for food and have two mice speaking the human language. In a humorous satirical way, the play takes audiences into the realms of poverty, where poverty-stricken human beings are compelled to choose the life of a rat over human life. In juxtaposition, rats help the poor get justice.
Pashmina is a touching story of a Delhi couple, who visit Kashmir and go in search of a Pashmina shawl. As the play unravels, their search for Pashmina opens up a sore wound – for they have lost their son to insurgents’ bullets in the valley. At the same time, this loss is reflected in the loss of the Muslim Pashmina shawl seller, whose young child has died in a crossfire – ironically, the same child who stitched the shawl bought by the martyr for his mother. The play reveals the darkness of a life without a child for both with the writer commenting on their destinies having a commonality in death.
The third play Nirala, which is being staged at the P L Deshpande Auditorium at Prabhadevi today evening, is inspired by the life of the extraordinary poet Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ and depicts his life and writings, which are extraordinary (also the meaning of his name ‘Nirala’). The play tries to depict poetic sentiments of his life and poetry.
These plays, after concluding in Mumbai tonight, will be further staged in Delhi (at the India Habitat Centre on 22 and 23 September 2018) and Amritsar (at the Natshala on 28, 29 and 30 September 2018).