Everything Personal – a taut and gripping play | Manohar Khushalani

A Review by Prof. Manohar Khushalani
Published earlier as ‘Intertwined Lives’ in IIC Diary
Nov-Dec 2010 Issue

Indian theatre professionals have been complaining about lack of contemporary indigenous playwrights. But a crop of new playwrights is emerging. Abhishek Bhattacharya’s ‘Nothing Will Happen Between Us’ and Anushka Ravi Shankar’s ‘Phoenix’ come to one’s mind. The latest new playwright to hit the horizon is Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, a seasoned journalist; whose first play, ‘Everything Personal’, was presented by Yatrik under the direction of Bhaskar Ghosh. Incidentally, all the three plays were produced by the India International Center, though the first two were presented by Ruchika Theatre Group at IIC earlier.

Mukhopadhyay’s precisely written script is about what happens when Everything Personal leaks into the public domain.  The play revolves around a radio reality show. The show has listeners phoning in, and, using made-up names, answering very personal questions, hopefully truthfully – since they are promised by the Radio Channel that their identities will be kept concealed. The story revolves around two couples whose lives get intertwined due to the radio show. Vivek (Sunit Tandon) and Nupur (Rupali Sharma) are a lovey-dovey couple who have Ganesh, (Vishaal Sethia) and Madhuri (Isha Joshi) as frequent visitors, often coming over for dinner. Vivek is intrigued by the show and is uncontrollably attracted to it with his thrill-seeking temperament. As Vivek is artfully drawn in by the Radio Jockey (Aarti Nayar) to reveal intimate secrets of his life, it creates a turmoil in the lives of the remaining three. For one, Vivek had a previous relationship with Madhuri, which he confessed about on the radio show, without revealing her identity – though, it didn’t take long for the spouses to guess. As the shows progressed, the pressure of keeping the listeners entertained led to unprecedented brinkmanship on Vivek’s part. So much so, that he inadvertently revealed a deep dark secret of his life which shocked even the radio channel.


Bhaskar’s taught direction did full justice to Mukhopadhyay’s script which kept the audience on tenterhooks. Sunit Tandon’s rendition of an unfathomable liar, who keeps others guessing as to whether he was lying or not, was well crafted. Arti Nayar, Rupali Sharma and Vishaal Sethia gave competent performances. Sinia Dugal and Ramesh Thakur as Vivek’s parents provided the appropriate support, however, Isha Joshi needs to work on her voice projection. The play was not just entertaining, but it also examined some issues regarding the high expectations of the younger generation and marital loyalty in a contemporary framework. One hopes that the Playwright will continue to write and contribute to the Indian theatre scene.

Published earlier as ‘Intertwined Lives’ in IIC Diary Nov-Dec 2010 Issue

Rajendranath’s Play on Stories of Premchand | Manohar Khushalani

A Review by Prof. Manohar Khushalani

IICs  Annual Day was celebrated with a fitting tribute to Munshi Premchand by dramatic renditions of four of his most well known short stories directed by Rajinder Nath and presented by Nepathya Foundation. All the four plays were really heartwarming epitomized by the Director’s deft presentation, which was minimalistic and intellectually stimulating, thus doing justice to the author’s own style of writing. Competent performances by all the actors, especially Mala Kumar, Rekha Johri,  Animesh Singhal and Gaurav Sehgal propelled the play.

Known as a pragmatist, social reality and pathos has been the focus of Premchan’s writings, which was also emulated by two of the plays performed that day; Shanti and Satgati. But, pathos isn’t the only emotion he could write about. In ‘Moteram Ji Shastri’, the story of a lovable charlatan, who, like Molier’s Mock Doctor, gives us twinkle-eyed humour of unbelievable situations. But, despite his wife’s warnings, of not getting entangled with women, Moteram ends up becoming the Queen’s physician, enchanting her with his gift of poetic gab, only to be kicked unceremoniously out by the guards.

Bade Bhai Sahab, a light-hearted story of sibling rivalry between two brothers, one of whom is five years elder to the other. While the elder brother is prone to sermonize the younger one; on the need to take studies seriously, much to his own embarrassment, the younger one catches up with him as he gets promoted each year. Unfortunately, the older one stays put in the same class. Charmingly enacted, the mirthful story ends with food for thought. Is educational qualification really superior to wisdom laden experience?

Published earlier in IIC Diary

Prechand Review

Review as published in IIC Diary

Women Against War | Manohar Khushalani

NSD Play Directed by Waman Kendre

A review by Manohar Khushalani

First Published in IIC Diary

National School of Drama’s “Ghazab Teri Ada”, an anti-war play, adapted from Aristophane’s Greek comedy, Lysistrata, was staged at IIC. Adaptation, music design and direction is by Waman Kendre and light design by Suresh Bharadwaj. The play was initially performed at NSD as a tribute to war victims around the centenary of World War I. However, with the prevailing war psychosis, the play has contemporary relevance too. Taking a cue from the Greek play, first performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, which was a comic account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War, the protagonist of the Hindi play, Laya, convinces the wives of soldiers, to withdraw sexual favours to their husbands, until  they agree to desist from fighting the War Mongering King’s battles. In the non-violent protest, even the Queen is co-opted. In order to seal all alternatives for men, even the lady brothel-keeper is made a co-conspirator. There are hilarious scenes of desperate men trying to win favours first from their wives and later, in futility, from the women in the brothel. Even the King is brought on his knees by the Queen. The play ends with the soldiers laying down their arms.


The racy musical, with a folk flavor, has been intricately designed by Kendre. The women’s protest, was unusually orchestrated with strident ringing of hand held temple bells, in a martial style. He avoided the obvious Ghungroo, realizing that it was more a symbol of femininity than feminism.


The Review Published in IIC Diary

Epic Narrative in Regional Theatre Traditions of South India | Manohar Khushalani

Event: A Talk by Prof. Paula Richman
Learning from Performance: Epic Narrative in Regional Theatre Traditions of South India
Venue: Seminar Rooms I & II, Kamaladevi Complex at IIC
Date: Sept. 7  2013
First Published in IIC Diary Sept-Oct 2013 Issue

Paula Richman, Danforth Professor of South Asian Religions at Oberlin
College in Ohio, USA, gave a talk on Learning from Performance using Epic
Narrative in Regional Theatre Traditions of South India. Supporting her as
the moderator was Prof. Rustom Bharucha, from the School of Arts and
Aesthetics, JNU, where Paula is also doing a short term Fellowship.
Richman’s passion for Ramayana is well known, so much so, that her name
has become synonymous with the topic. Paula has travelled to many parts of
the world in hot pursuit of the ‘Many Ramayanas ‘, which is also the title of
one of her books. According to her, people for whom Ramayana is central
now live throughout the globe in countries as diverse as South Africa,
Trinidad, Surinam United Kingdom, Australia, USA, Canada, parts of Europe,
besides South East Asia, “it has indeed become a global text as well as a
global piece of theatre” she added. But the subject of her current research
was South India.

She began her talk with a Tamil ‘Morning Sickness Song’, relating to Queen
Kausalya’s condition when she was pregnant with her son Rama.   The song
describes rituals that King Dasharatha and other women performed to
support her during her pregnancy, and her food cravings too. One day she
wants murukku, then idli, as another woman wants dosas! Idlis in Ayodhya?
Sounds weird, but, Tamilians can relate more easily to pregnant women who
crave for local dishes. Indian folklore believes in anthropomorphism. It bring
Gods closer by imagining that they behave like humans.

Paula also discussed a Kattaikkuttu play called RamaRavana.  It expressed
the yearning for virtuous governance.  One of its songs talks about how
people are still waiting to have an ideal, fair, and compassionate leader rule
– somewhat reminiscent of Ram Rajya.

Richman hopped from one topic to another as she gushed about Yakshagana
dance-dramas of coastal Karnataka and finally, about how the legendary
actress Usha Nangiar enacted the role of Mandodari in one of her

Her underlining thrust was that live performances offer new ways of
understanding the experiences of Ramayana characters.

IIC Diary Sep-Oct 2013 Issue