Tuesday was a Play night. It was a deadly combination - Badal Sarkar’s play performed by ex members of Hindi Drama Club, BITS Pilani. To understand the context let me tell you about the Hindi Drama Club during my times in BITS. Like most engineering college students across the world who need to sound culturally advanced, BITS had what we liked to call a throbbing dramatics culture. The English Drama Club (EDC), The Hindi Drama Club (HDC) and the Pilani Tamizh Mandaram (PTM) staged plays across the year. There were distinct class differences between the audiences.
You had to go to EDC plays to show your level of ‘cool’. You weren’t ‘pseud’ enough if you were not found discussing the play the next day. PTM won simply on the basis of sheer number of the Tamil population in BITS and the wingies (like me) they dragged to the play. HDC was the step child of drama. Pure Hindi drama had very few connoisseurs in Pilani of my times. The audience was often jingoistic coming in just to belong to the ‘group’ of Hindi speakers, a rarity that time in Pilani.
Though I seldom missed any play, my loyalties were clearly stated. I loved HDC, especially since my batch joined in full force in the cast. The quality of the plays and the performances were astounding. PTM was equally passionate about their production but EDC always left me cold. At one point of time EDC became the storehouse of snobbery, lackluster performances and a lack of direction. In fact, when I left I think EDC had reached its lowest ever ebb with HDC shining like a pinnacle of success.
There was a reason behind it. The HDC guys played who they were in their real lives while EDC tried to bring in an alien culture, mannerisms and histrionics to Pilani. Guess they never saw an Utpal Dutta adaptation of foreign plays. Perhaps, I have been overtly critical of them because my expectations were so high. The good part however is that I hear they have become extremely proficient and professional since I left BITS. Excellent news, I must say.
Coming back to HDC, a friend informed me one day that HDC had re grouped and had formed a play troupe called ‘Mashaal’ post their BITSian days and they were coming to perform in Mumbai. It felt nice. At least someone was doing something other than their daily trip to their office cubicles.
When I reached Prithvi, Bitsians had started trickling in and there were 7 of us that night at Prithvi and I was hoping it will feel like seeing a play in Audi once again. I was mistaken. Sometimes magic can’t be recreated. I wasn’t allowed to pass my usual smart-alec comments, BITSians chose to behave like ‘cultured Mumbaikars’ which made me wonder should I have come to the play alone or perhaps with just a friend. You know under such circumstances I can get my old ‘bangali bhadrolok’ self out and appreciate the play without feeling like a college guy once again. Sad, but true.
(Disclaimer – I have been an avid play watcher all my life and I assure you that I am in my best missionary school behaviour in all performances. Secondly, BITSians are an extremely well mannered tribe. It’s just that we lose it a bit if we are watching a BITSian play at our auditorium)
Coming to the play – Except Baropishima and Ebong Indrajeet I always found Badal Sarkar’s plays a little too heavy for normal human consumption. Add to that the fact that I have left behind a life where I would wonder about Camus’ views at 3:00 am in the morning with a micro electronics book under my head as a pillow. These days, I would rather follow the time tested philosophy of Prabujee and the antics of his son The Great Mimoh if I am not listening to the achievements of The Great Khali on Aaj Tak. But I meander. Forgive me.
The play however made me wonder again about human relationships. Can a man and woman be married for 7 long years yet not know about each other? Can a home withstand any deluge that might threaten to wash away its base? Can there be secrets which neither is aware of? Is a relationship anything but a compromise? Directed by Raheem (BITS ‘01), it was one hell of a power packed play. Smit (BITS ‘99) has not lost much of his acting capabilities and gave out an outstanding performance as the ‘practical’ man who loves his wife but perhaps has never tried to understand her. Nidhi (Non BITSian) as his wife was good but perhaps a little too dramatic. The natural flow of Smit’s expressions and actions clearly brought out the stark differences in their outlook towards life. Maybe, her role demanded that. Kimothi (BITS ’04) had developed as an actor in front of my own eyes but on that night he seemed a prisoner of his role. Yes, it’s true his was the most unstructured role and under-defined too but I felt that gave him the leeway to experiment more. But the leeway went underutilized.
While dozing off, I could not help but wonder if relationships are actually so complicated why do people get into them?