Thespians honoured ceremoniously at Natsamrat Theater Awards 2023

Renowned Theatre Personalities of the country were honoured by Natsamrat. Like every year, this year also the 15th Natsamrat Theatre Award was organized, in which 12 theatre artists of the country were honoured by Natsamrat. Natsamrat’s director Shyam Kumar has always believed that it is a matter of pride for us to honour those who give their whole life to theatre.

This year the Best Writer Award was given to Dr. Harisuman Bisht, Best Director Satyabrata Rout, Best Actor Amit Saxena, Best Actress Rekha Johri, Best Backstage (Lighting) Souti Chakraborty, Best Critic Kamlesh Bhartiya, Theater Promoter Dayal Krishna Nath. Lifetime
Achievement Award was given to Daya Prakash Sinha, Dr.Jaidev Taneja, Diwan Singh Bajeli, R.K. Dhingra and Bharat Ratna Bhargava. All the honored personnel were given the Natsamrat Samman by Sh. R.K.Singh (former M.P.) and (Eminent Writer) Sh.Surendra Verma.

After the award ceremony the play Kadwa Sach was staged, by a troupe from Assam and the director of this play was Dayal Krishna Nath.

Mr. RK Sinha said that it is a big thing in itself that
an organization has been promoting this genre for 15 years and has been honoring the artistes, for this Natsamrat’s director Shyam Kumar deserves congratulations. Dr. Jaidev Taneja said that Shyam Kumar’s contribution to Hindi theater is commendable. The entire festival took place on 12 March 2023 at 6:30 pm at Muktdhara Auditorium, Gol Market, New Delhi and entry was free.

Natsamrat Natya Utsav 2023, Opens 4th March

Keeping up with it’s two decades old tradition, the 20th Natsamrat Natya Utsav is going to be inaugurated this weekend

Natsamrat is going to organize 20th Natsamrat Natya Utsav which will be held on 4th, 5th
and 12th March 2023 at Muktdhara Auditorium, Bhai Vir Singh Marg, Gol Market, New Delhi.

Like every year, this year too many plays are going to be staged on one stage, where the audience will be able to enjoy the plays of different provinces free of cost.

Three plays will be staged on March 4. The first play” Teen Bandar” written by Prabudh
Joshi & directed by Nagendra Kr. Sharma, which is a presentation of Ambala (Haryana) will be staged at 4:00 PM. The next performance is “Birsa Munda” written by Sanjay Bhasin & directed by Vikas Sharma at 6:00 PM and this is the performance of Kurukshetra (Haryana). On the same evening at 8:00 pm, the drama of Delhi will be presented “Chukayenge Nahi” written by Dario Fo, adaptation by Amitabh Srivastava & directed by Chader Shekhar Sharma.

The next day on March 5 at 4:00 pm the Play “Bali” written by Girish Karnad & directed
by Vashisth Upadhyay will be staged. At 6:30 pm, The Play “Kuch Tum Kaho Kuch Hum Kahen” written by Ashish Kotwal & directed by Shyam Kumar will be performed.

On March 12, Assam will present the play “Kadwa Sachh” written by Kushal Deka & directed by Dayal Krishna Nath.

Along with this, Natsamrat is going to organize it’s 15th Natsamrat Theater Award in which Theatre Personalities will be honored in eight different genres.

This year the best writer award is being given to Harisuman Bisht, the best director is Satyabrata Rout, the actor award is going to Amit Saxena and actress Rekha Johri, award for Backstage (Lights) is going to Souti Chakraborty and Critic is Dr. Kamlesh Bharti, Theater Promoter Award is
going to Dayal Krishan Nath and Lifetime Achievement Award is being given to
Bharatratna Bhargava. This grand finale will be organized on March 12 at 6:00 pm at Muktdhara Auditorium and the entry for the entire theatrical festival is free.


In the middle of LINTON road, a rickshaw comes and stops in front of the woman. She intends to hire it for going to a destination. The rickshaw driver looks at her and assents to take her to the desired stop.

Sc –I

Woman – Will you drop me at this address?

Driver- Yes madam. Please sit.

Woman- Be quick. I don’t have time.

Driver- yes madam..

Woman- Thank you.

Driver- No thanks. I am there to take people to their desired stops. But…

Woman- But? Are you worried about your fare? Do not worry. I will give you cash.

Driver- No. I am not worried about money. I am thinking that YOU are going to give my your life.

Woman: What?

Driver- No madam. Nothing. I just said nothing at all. Don’t worry. Come, it’s going to be night soon and this road becomes quite isolated. It is not safe to be here for a long time.


(The rickshaw starts with a jerk. The woman gets a strong jolt)

Woman- Oh! Driver what’s this? Be careful.

Driver- At times, it isn’t in our hands madam.

Woman-But it is in our YOUR hands only!

Driver- No. I have to take many abrupt decisions while driving. This was one of them. I did not intend to put sudden jerk otherwise. The road’s quite open to receiving jerks when we start off.

Woman- Whatever. Let’s go.

Driver (speaks softly)- Go. This word has the implication of going and when I am going, I have to be on the go and when I am on the go, none disturbs me. Get Set Go!

Woman- What are you muttering?

Driver- Nothing madam. Yes, you said go. But…

Woman- But what?

Driver- We cannot GO.

Woman- What! Just a moment ago you said you are ready to go and now you are denying.

Driver- I am ready to go madam. But not ready to go now.

Woman- What? What are you talking?

Driver- Just wait madam, wait for some time. We need to. Or else, it might get too late.

Woman- What nonsense is this? You said we must start off quickly as it might get isolated here soon and now you are telling me to tarry?

Driver- Life is unexpected madam. The clutch wire just broke when I gave the jerk.

Woman- Oh! Now it would be needless delay. Never mind. I will hire another rick.

Driver- Not possible madam. It is not going to be easy for you to get another vehicle here.

(She stands there and tries to call other rickshaws. None of them stops. Comes back to the same rickshaw driver. Stands there.)

Woman- Ok. I am waiting here. Be quick.

Driver- Am trying my best. At times things are not in our hands madam.

Woman- But the wire is in your hands.

Driver- But its intention to get repaired or not does not lie in my hands madam.

(After almost an hour’s time, he is able to repair the clutch wire)

Woman- Now let’s go. Enough of waiting here.

Driver- Yes madam. Sit inside the auto.

(As she moves towards the auto, her foot twists unexpectedly while walking and she cries in pain.)

Woman- Oh God! I did not notice this stone in the middle. My foot got twisted! I am feeling awful. I never did think anything of this sort would happen. Thought I would hire and auto and reach home quickly.

Driver- At times, life shows us what we do not expect madam. Do not worry. I will support you and help you to get in the auto. Come, lean on my shoulder.

(He supports her)

Woman- ok. Now finally should we set off!

Driver- Yes madam.

(He starts the auto and takes it off. The woman sits quietly in the seat at the back. He keeps driving.)

Woman –(calls her friend) I will reach in no time. Actually, I can explain ( suddenly, there’s a speed breaker and the rickshaw crosses it very quickly. Once again, she gets a heavy jerk.)

Woman- Drive slowly. Will you. Can’t you see the speed breaker?

Driver- Madam. At times we are forced to drive quickly. You said you need to reach fast. I thought…

Woman- So that does not mean you drive haphazardly. Drive carefully.

Driver- Ok madam.

(Suddenly stops the auto)

Woman- What? Why have you stopped?

Driver- Madam. It is dinner time for me. I need to eat my food. You need to wait.

Woman- What?

Driver- yes.

Woman- But you drop me first then have your dinner. What are you up to?

Driver- Up to nothing madam. I am telling you one simple thing. I cannot drive ahead without my food. I need to finish my dinner. Wait in the auto. I will come in no time.

(She waits reluctantly and knows well that no rickshaw was available in that area. He comes after almost forty five mins)

Woman- Now should we go?

Driver- If you ask me madam, it means you are taking my permit. I am nobody to decide.

Woman- But you are the DRIVER. Driving me is in your hands.

Driver- No madam. Driving both of us is in someone else’s hands.

Woman- What absurdity is this? You drive take me to my destination.

Driver- You think you have a destination. (Laughs.) Everybody thinks so. But none has any.


(She looks at him almost frantically.)

Woman- Why are you talking wierd?

Driver- Nobody makes any sense in the world madam. Especially lower class people like us, we often become senseless in front of everyone.

Woman- See right now it is not the time to check whether you are sensible or senseless. Now is the time to drive safely and help me reach my destination. I am wanting eagerly to reach at a place.

Driver- That’s what I am doing madam. Helping you reach your destination.

Woman-With the kind of slow speed that you are driving, I do not think we will reach there ever.

(stops the auto. The woman looks at him irritatingly.)

Woman- Why did you stop the auto?

Driver- I need to get the CNG filled.

Woman- Listen, do it afterwards. I do not want to be late.

Driver- Madam. There is no fuel left.

Woman- What? Why didn’t you tell me earlier. I would not have hired your auto.

Driver- Madam, it will take 5 mins.

Woman- Ok.

(Gets the fuel tank filled. The woman waits.)

Woman- Now can we get set go?

Driver- Madam, wait. I need to get the change to give them money.

Woman- Wait, here I am giving you change. Take it. Give it to them. Let’s leave.

Driver- Ok madam.

(He makes the payment at the petrol pump. They start off and come at crossroad)

Driver- Madam. Two roads diverge. Which one to take?

Woman- The left one. Wait, perhaps, I would have to check on my phone. Ok , here it is the right one. That’s the direction it shows.

Driver- But madam, this road is very long. It will take time.

Woman- My mobile does not lie. It is the most convenient road it shows.

Driver- So I should take this one right?

Woman- Of course.

Driver- So be it.

(He turns right. The road continues and has many lanes. After some time the woman gets annoyed.)

Woman- What is this? Lanes after lanes?

Driver- Madam, I told you this road is long but you did not listen to me.

Woman- Now what to do?

Driver- Let’s go back.

Woman- Ok.

(He takes a reverse turn, in just a few mins, they come to a specific point where there is traffic jam)

Woman- O my God! We did not have it while we took this road, now where did this come from?

Driver- It is a procession that has just started madam.

Woman- We are stuck!

Driver- We are often stuck in the middle of roads madam.

(After almost an hour’s wait, the traffic heals. They move ahead.)

Woman- I wanted to reach there two hour before. Little did I know I would get so late!

Driver- We often do not know the future madam. But better late than never.

Woman- What do you mean?

Driver- Meaning, we would reach there some time, some day.

Woman- What? What are you talking?

Driver- Nothing madam. The fact of life. The crux of living this life is an eternal journey that never ends. Right?

Woman- Don’t be philosophical. I do not have time.

Driver- None has time. Time has everyone.

(Puts a sudden break. Stage goes dark. The next moment we see bright light on the stage and many people having gathered there.)

Person I – Oh sad, very sad the accident.

Person II- The autowala is dead.

Person III- The passenger?

Person I- Nowhere to be found.

Person II- Let us inform the police.

(They call the ambulance and the police who come and do the needful in the case.)

The next day, a woman stands in the middle of the LINTON road. She stops an auto, hires him.

Woman – Will you drop me at this address?

Driver- Yes madam. Please sit.

Woman- Be quick. I don’t have time.

Driver- yes madam.

Woman- Thank you.

Driver- No thanks. I am there to take people to their desired stops. But…

Woman- But? Are you worried about your fare? Do not worry. I will give you cash.

Driver- No. I am not worried about money. I am thinking that YOU are going to give me your life.

Woman: What?

(Next day in the newspaper. Linton road seems to be haunted. A driver with an auto is seen moving around and a lady comes and boards it. They both act as passenger and auto driver. After a while, people hear a loud shriek, an auto driver in the same locality is found dead.)

Lights off stage darkens. After a while there is light all around.

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निर्जन कारावास

समीक्षक — अनिल गोयल

हिन्दी में मूल नाटकों के अभाव की बात सदैव से कही जाती रही है. ऐसे में किसी नये नाटक का आना अवश्य ही स्वागत-योग्य कहा जायेगा! ‘जयवर्धन’ के नाम से लिखने वाले जे.पी. सिंह का नया नाटक ‘निर्जन कारावास’ प्रसिद्ध क्रान्तिकारी, योगी, दार्शनिक और कवि महर्षि अरविन्द घोष के जीवन पर लिखा गया एक नाटक है. 1872 में कलकत्ता में जन्मे महर्षि अरविन्द का जीवन बहु-आयामी था – उन्होंने इंग्लैंड में आई.सी.एस. की परीक्षा उत्तीर्ण करने से लेकर बड़ौदा (अब वदोदरा) में एक प्रशासनिक अधिकारी, शिक्षक, क्रान्तिकारी, पत्रकार, योगी, दार्शनिक और कवि तक की भी भूमिकाएँ निभाईं. उनके जीवन को एक नाटक में समो सकना असम्भव है. जयवर्धन का प्रस्तुत नाटक महर्षि अरविन्द के एक वर्ष के निर्जन कारावास वाले काल-खण्ड को प्रदर्शित करता है, जब उन्हें प्रसिद्ध अलीपुर बम काण्ड में गिरफ्तार किया गया था.

बड़ौदा में कुछ समय प्रशासनिक सेवा से जुड़े रहने के बाद अपने को वहाँ से मुक्त कर के वे बंगाल लौट आये थे. वहाँ अरविन्द घोष असहयोग आन्दोलन और सविनय अवज्ञा आन्दोलन से जुड़ गये, जिस काल में उन्होंने लोकमान्य बाल गंगाधर तिलक और भगिनी निवेदिता के साथ भी सम्पर्क स्थापित किया. वे बाहरी रूप से तो कांग्रेस की गतिविधियों से जुड़े, लेकिन उन्होंने अपने को गुप्त रूप से भूमिगत क्रान्तिकारी गतिविधियों से भी जोड़ लिया. क्रान्तिकारी गतिविधियों से युवाओं को जोड़ने के लिये उन्होंने युवाओं को युवा क्लब स्थापित करने को प्रेरित किया. इसके पहले, सन 1902 में बंगाल के सुप्रसिद्ध ‘अनुशीलन समिति’ क्रान्तिकारी समूह को स्थापित करने में उन्होंने सक्रिय भूमिका निभाई थी. वे देश भर में क्रान्तिकारियों को संगठित करने के लिए घूमते फिरे. उन्होंने बाघा जतिन और सुरेन्द्रनाथ ठाकुर को भी क्रान्तिकारी गतिविधियों में भाग लेने को प्रेरित किया

अपनी इन गतिविधियों के कारण वे ब्रिटिश सरकार की निगाहों में आ गये. उनकी गतिविधियों को रोकने के लिये उन्हें अलीपुर बम काण्ड में गिरफ्तार कर लिया गया, जहाँ मुकदमा चलने के काल में उन्हें एक वर्ष तक ‘निर्जन कारावास’ में रखा गया. ब्रिटिश सरकार का उद्देश्य था उन्हें फाँसी पर चढ़ाना; ब्रिटिश वाइसराय के सचिव की सोच थी कि अरविन्द घोष समस्त क्रान्तिकारी गतिविधियों के मस्तिष्क हैं, और वे अकेले ही क्रान्तिकारियों की पूरी सेना खड़ी करने में सक्षम हैं. परन्तु उनके विरुद्ध पर्याप्त प्रमाण जुटा पाने में विफल रहने पर सरकार मुकदमा हार गई, और उसे अरविन्द घोष को छोड़ देने पर बाध्य होना पड़ा. कारा से बाहर आने पर उन्होंने अंग्रेजी में ‘कर्मयोगी’ और बंगाली में ‘धर्म’ नामक प्रकाशन प्रारम्भ किये. इस समय पर पहली बार उन्होंने अपने उत्तरपाड़ा व्याख्यान में अपने चिन्तन में अध्यात्मिक रुझान के आने के संकेत दिये. इसके बाद वे फ्रांसीसी आधिपत्य वाले क्षेत्र पांडिचेरी चले गये, लेकिन ब्रिटिश गुप्तचरों ने वहाँ भी उनका पीछा नहीं छोड़ा. इसके बाद क्रान्तिकारी गतिविधियों से सन्यास ले कर वे पूर्ण रूप से योगी बन गये.

जे.पी. सिंह ने अपने इस नये नाटक की पहली प्रस्तुति 5 दिसम्बर 2022 को दिल्ली के श्रीराम प्रेक्षागृह में दी. इस प्रस्तुति के लिये उन्हें भीलवाड़ा औद्योगिक समूह की ओर से सहयोग मिला. यह हर्ष का विषय है कि स्वतन्त्रता-संग्राम के जो चरित्र अब तक हिन्दी रंगमंच से नदारद थे, वे अब भारतीय जनता के समक्ष जीवित हो रहे हैं.
लेकिन जे.पी. सिंह के अरविन्द आध्यात्म में डूबे हुए अरविन्द हैं, उनकी उस समय की वास्तविकता से थोड़े दूर! यदि अरविन्द सचमुच आध्यात्म में इतने ही डूबे हुए थे, तो सरकार को उन्हें निर्जन कारावास में रखने की क्या आवश्यकता थी? तथ्य बताते हैं कि अलीपुर बम काण्ड के समय तक अरविन्द इतनी गहराई के साथ आध्यात्म की ओर को नहीं मुड़े थे. योग और प्राणायाम से तो वे काफी पहले जुड़ गये थे, कविता भी करने लगे थे. परन्तु बहुत गहराई के साथ आध्यात्म की सीढ़ियाँ चढ़ना उन्होंने अभी प्रारम्भ नहीं किया था. जेल में, प्रारम्भ में उन्हें घर के कपड़े पहनने, अपने पास किताबें रखने और कागज-कलम और दवात तक के प्रयोग की अनुमति भी नहीं थी, जिस की अनुमति उन्हें जेल में रहने के काल में काफी समय के बाद मिली थी. जेल में स्वामी विवेकानन्द की आत्मा दो माह तक उनसे मिलती रही, ऐसा उन्होंने बाद में एक पत्र में लिखा. लेकिन यह भी सत्य है, कि यदि जेल में ही सरकारी गवाह बन गये नरेन गोस्वामी की हत्या न कर दी गई होती, तो अरविन्द को आध्यात्म की ओर को मुड़ने का अवसर भी मिल पाता या नहीं! कांग्रेस में भी वे प्रारम्भ से ही गरम दल के साथ जुड़े थे, तिलक के साथ उनका सामीप्य यही सिद्ध करता है.

इसलिये, नाटक की प्रस्तुति में एक प्रशासनिक अधिकारी, राजनीतिक विश्लेषक, शिक्षक, क्रान्तिकारी, पत्रकार, योगी, दार्शनिक और कवि की उनकी भूमिकाओं को उभारना आवश्यक है. इससे इतने बड़े व्यक्तित्व वाले इस क्रान्तिकारी के चरित्र को एकांगीपन से बचा कर कर उसे उसकी बहु-आयामिता में प्रस्तुत करना सम्भव होगा, जो अत्यन्त महत्वपूर्ण है. अभी नाटक का पहला ही प्रदर्शन हुआ है. नाटक के अन्य प्रदर्शनों तथा इसके प्रकाशन के पूर्व जयवर्धन को इस विषय पर थोड़ा और गहराई के साथ शोध करके उनके निर्जन कारावास के समय की उनकी वास्तविक मनोस्थिति को उभारना होगा, तभी इस ऐतिहासिक चरित्र के साथ न्याय हो सकेगा. नाटक में रूप-सज्जा इत्यादि पर और अधिक ध्यान देने की आवश्यकता है, क्योंकि साधारणजन के मन में महर्षि अरविन्द के चित्रों के माध्यम से उनकी एक छवि बनी हुई है, जिसका सम्मान करना हमारा कर्तव्य है. बाऊल संगीत का प्रयोग करके जे.पी. सिंह नाटक में संगीत-पक्ष का कुशलता से प्रयोग कर सके हैं. नाटक को वास्तविकता के समीप लाने के लिये, नाटक के प्रमुख चरित्र अरविन्द घोष के पात्र को निभाने वाले अभिनेता विपिन कुमार को भी अपने को एक बहुत ही विनयशील, सौम्य, धार्मिक पुरुष की छवि से निकाल कर एक अंग्रेजी वातावरण और ईसाई प्रभाव में पले-बढ़े क्रान्तिकारी, प्रशासक और पत्रकार के चरित्र में आना होगा, सदैव किसी सन्त की भांति भावहीन चेहरे से कहीं दूर क्षितिज की ओर को देखते रहने से बचने की आवश्यकता है.

प्रेम रामायण

लेखक: अनिल गोयल

महरषि वाल्मीकि की रामायण ने पिछले लगभग सात-आठ हजार वर्षों में कितने ही रूप धारे हैं. हर काल में वाल्मीकि–रचित इस महाकाव्य को हर कोई अपने तरीके से सुनाता चला आया है. इसकी मंच-प्रस्तुतियों ने भी शास्त्रीय से लेकर लोक-मानस तक हजारों रंग भरे हैं. पारसी शैली की रामलीला को देख कर भारत की कितनी ही पीढ़ियाँ भगवान राम की इस कथा को मन में धारती आई हैं. कुमाँऊँनी रामलीला से लेकर कोटा क्षेत्र के पातोंदा गाँव, ओड़ीसा की लंकापोड़ी रामलीला और हरियाणा में खेली जाने वाली सरदार यशवन्तसिंह वर्मा टोहानवी की रामलीला जैसी कितनी ही सांगीतिक रामलीलाओं की लम्बी परम्परा हमारे यहाँ है. भारत ही नहीं, विदेशों में भी इसकी अनेकों प्रस्तुति-शैलियाँ पाई जाती हैं. इंडोनेशिया में बाली की रामलीला की तो अपनी अलग ही मनोहर शैली है.

हमारे देश में भी कलाकार रामलीला को अपनी दृष्टि से मंच पर प्रस्तुत करने के नित नये तरीके और शैलियाँ ढूँढ़ते रहते हैं. प्रवीण लेखक, निर्देशक और निर्माता अतुल सत्य कौशिक ने, जो प्रशिक्षण से एक चार्टर्ड अकाउंटेंट और अधिवक्ता हैं, अपने नाटक ‘प्रेम रामायण’ में प्रेम की दृष्टि से इस महाकाव्य की विवेचना की है. रामायण की अपनी व्याख्या पर आधारित नाटक ‘प्रेम रामायण’ का प्रदर्शन अतुल ने 5 अक्टूबर 2022 को दिल्ली के कमानी प्रेक्षागृह में किया. उनकी इस नाटक की यह पच्चीसवीं या छब्बीसवीं प्रस्तुति थी, जोकि हिन्दी रंगमंच के लिये एक गर्व का विषय है.

हमारे यहाँ प्रेम-भाव का प्रयोग प्रायः कृष्ण-कथाओं की प्रेम-मार्गी प्रस्तुतियों में किया जाता है. परन्तु अतुल ने बाल्मीकि की रामायण के मर्यादा पुरुषोत्तम भगवान राम के जीवन पर आधारित रामायण को प्रेम के भाव की प्रस्तुति का माध्यम बनाया है, जहाँ रामायण के चरित्र ईश्वरीय अवतार होने के साथ-साथ अपने मानवीय रूप, स्वभाव और संवेदनाओं के संग नजर आते हैं.

Atul Satya Kaushik

इसकी प्रेरणा उन्हें कैसे मिली, इसके उत्तर में वे कहते हैं, “मैं किसी एक प्रोजैक्ट के लिये बाल्मीकि रामायण पढ़ रहा था, और क्रौंच-वध के प्रसंग को पढ़ते हुए मुझे लगा कि इस महाकाव्य की उत्पत्ति तो एक प्रेम-आख्यान से हुई है. तो रामायण की विभिन्न कथाओं में प्रेम को ढूँढ़ने की प्रेरणा मुझे इसी आदि-काव्य से मिली!”
इसके लिये उन्होंने रामायण में छुपी पाँच प्रेम-कथाओं को चुना है. प्रेम-कथाओं के इन पन्नों में से सबसे पहले वे एक लगभग अनजानी सी कहानी ‘अकाल’ ले कर आते हैं, जिसमें श्रीराम की बड़ी बहन, दशरथ और कौशल्या की पुत्री शान्ता और उनके पति ऋषि श्रृंगी या ऋष्यश्रृंग की कहानी दिखाई गई है. दूसरी कहानी ‘रथ से निकला पहिया’ कैकेयी और दशरथ की जानी-पहचानी कहानी है. तीसरी कहानी ‘स्वर और शान्ति’ में वे सीता और राम के मन की संवेदनाओं की कथा सुनाते हैं. इसके बाद ‘उल्टी करवट मत सोना’ में लक्ष्मण और उर्मिला की कहानी देखने को मिलती है. और अन्त में, ‘उस पार’ के माध्यम से सुलोचना और मेघनाद की करुण प्रेम-कथा के दर्शन होते हैं.

विरह या अपने प्रिय से अलगाव ही प्रायः प्रेम-आख्यानों का आधार रहता है. इन पाँच में से शान्ता की कहानी के अतिरिक्त अन्य सभी चार कहानियाँ अपने-अपने कारणों से जन्मे उसी विरह की वेदना को दर्शाती हैं. सभी कहानियों में स्त्री-मन की अथाह गहराइयों को दर्शाने का प्रयास स्पष्ट नजर आता है, जिसके लिये अतुल कभी-कभी इन कथाओं की अपने अनुसार विवेचना भी कर लेते हैं.

दशरथ के मित्र और अंगदेश के स्वामी राजा रोमपद ने शान्ता को पाला था. युवा होने के उपरान्त परिस्थितियोंवश एक बार शान्ता का सामना ऋषि श्रृंगी या ऋष्यश्रृंग से हुआ. ऋष्यश्रृंग ने अपने पिता विभान्तक या विभंडक के क्रोध से शान्ता की रक्षा की, और उसी क्षण शान्ता ऋष्यश्रृंग की हो गई! (इन ऋषि विभंडक के नाम पर ही आज का मध्य प्रदेश का भिंड नगर बसा हुआ है!) ऋष्यश्रृंग ने भी जीवन के हर क्षण में शान्ता को अपने साथ रखा, उसे पूरी बराबरी का सम्मान दिया! शान्ता के जीवन के उन्हीं क्षणों का चित्रण अतुल ने पूरी कुशलता के साथ किया है.

‘स्वर और शान्ति’ में अतुल ने सीता और राम के मन की ध्वनि को एक अनूठे ही तरीके से सुनाया है. अतुल की सीता अयोध्या की सीता नहीं हैं, वे मिथिला की बेटी सीता हैं, मन से एक चंचल बालिका, सुकोमल भावनाओं से ओत-प्रोत, कर्तव्यों के गाम्भीर्य के बीच अपने मन की संवेदनाओं के कोमल स्वरों को भी सुनने वाली सीता. अयोध्या के राम जितने शान्त थे, मिथिला की सीता उतनी ही चपल और चंचल थीं. आज भी मिथिला और नेपाल के गीतों में उनका यही रूप अधिक प्रचलित है, जनकपुर की बेटी का रूप! राम का स्वरुप भी यहाँ अयोध्या के युवराज का नहीं, बल्कि मिथिला के जामाता का है, जिसके साथ ठिठोली भी की जाती है! सीता के इसी स्वर, और राम के गहन-गम्भीर, शान्त स्वभाव की कथा है यह कथा! यह प्रेम रामायण है, तो उसमें अतुल ने कलात्मक स्वतन्त्रता लेकर सीता की प्रचलित एकदम गम्भीर, आदर्श छवि से हट कर, सीता को अपने पिता की लाडली बेटी, एक बच्ची के रूप में दिखाने का प्रयास किया है!

लेकिन पूरे नाटक में सबसे अधिक मार्मिक और करुणा भरे क्षण रहे लक्ष्मण और उर्मिला की विदा के क्षण! मैथिलीशरण गुप्त ने भी अपने महाकाव्य ‘साकेत’ के नवम सर्ग में घर में रह कर वनवासिनी का जीवन जीती उर्मिला की कहानी कही है. आसन्न विरह के आभास और सीता के वनवास जाने से उत्पन्न हुए कर्त्तव्य के बीच अद्भुत सन्तुलन बनाती हुई उर्मिला… इन चारों बहनों में से सबसे बड़ी सीता तो वन चली गईं . अब बाकी तीनों में उर्मिला ही सबसे बड़ी हैं. तीन सासें तो अपने वैधव्य को भोग रही हैं. उन तीनों सासों की, अपनी दोनों छोटी बहनों की, दोनों देवरों की, और इतने बड़े राजभवन की सम्पूर्ण जिमेवारी अब उर्मिला की हो जाने वाली है. लेकिन इन सब कर्त्तव्यों के बीच उसका अपना आसन्न विरह भी तो है, जिसे न चाह कर भी उर्मिला ने स्वीकार कर लिया है. लेकिन लक्ष्मण के वन जाने के पहले वह एक बार लक्ष्मण से मिल कर अपने को अयोध्या के राजभवन के अपने चौदह वर्षों के वनवास के लिए तैयार कर लेना चाहती है. वह वन-गमन की तैयारी करते लक्ष्मण को बुला भेजती है.

लक्ष्मण एवं उर्मिला दोनों को ही पता है कि उनका यह मिलन एक क्षणिक मिलन-मात्र है। उर्मिला के उलाहनों से प्रारम्भ हुए इस अल्पकालीन मिलन में दोनों में से कोई भी अपने अन्तर के ज्वार भाटे से दूसरे को अवगत नहीं करा पाता है। उन दोनों को ही पता है कि दोनों को अगले चौदह वर्षों का भीषण वियोग सहना है। उर्मिला का उर अश्रुओं से गीला है। लेकिन जाते हुए वह लक्ष्मण को दुःख नहीं देना चाहती… अतः अपनी चपलता को बनाये रखने का असहज सा प्रयास करती है. गरिमा और दीप्ति का आविर्भाव इस बालिका, उर्मिला में अभी होना बाकी है. मायके में माता-पिता, और अयोध्या में सीता के संरक्षण में पली-बढ़ी उर्मिला अभी तक एक चपला बालिका भर ही तो रही है…

अतुल के लक्ष्मण ने ऐसे एकाकी क्षणों के लिये अपनी उर्मिला को ‘मिला’ नाम दिया है. वे आते हैं, और अपनी ‘मिला’ से पूछते हैं, “तुम्हें क्या बात करनी है?”
ये कुछ क्षण आसंग विरह के पूर्वरंग के समान हैं. दोनों ही सोच रहे हैं कि क्या बात करें, कैसे एक-दूसरे से विदा लें. वह भी लक्ष्मण के साथ वन जाना चाहती है, परन्तु उसे पता है कि यह सम्भव नहीं है… उसका विराट कर्त्तव्य उसके सामने नजर आ रहा है.
लेकिन कर्त्तव्य के साथ-साथ उसका अपना विरह भी तो है… एक नन्हा सा, कोमल भावनाओं से भरा हृदय भी तो उसके पास है! यहाँ पर अतुल ने उर्मिला को एक छोटी सी, लगभग नन्हीं सी नवविवाहिता किशोरी के रूप में दिखाया है, चौदह वर्षों का लम्बा विरह जिसके आगे प्रस्तुत होने को ही है! वह कहती है, “मुझे? मुझे क्या बात करनी है?”
लक्ष्मण कहते हैं, “मैं चौदह वर्ष के लिये वन जा रहा हूँ और तुम्हें मुझसे कोई बात नहीं करनी?”
उर्मिला आज इन कुछ पलों में जैसे अपने आने वाले चौदह वर्षों को जी लेना चाहती है, अपने सायास ओलाहनों से बातचीत को सहज करने का प्रयास करती, “तुम्हें भी कहाँ करनी है बात! तुम तो सुनते ही तैयार भी हो गये, जैसे प्रतीक्षा में थे कि कब अवसर आये और तुम मिला से दूर जाओ। मैं बहुत लड़ती हूँ ना तुमसे!”
लक्ष्मण तो ठहरे सदा के गम्भीर! लेकिन अपने कर्तव्यों के बीच उन्हें उर्मिला के उर में समाते जा रहे विरह का भान भी था. वे उस चंचला से बोले, “तुम कहाँ लड़ती हो। कदाचित लड़ने के कारण मैं ही देता हूँ तुमको। अब चौदह वर्ष का समय मिला है तो सोचूँगा कहाँ सुधार हो सकता है।”
दोनों का वार्तालाप चलता रहता है, स्तब्ध बैठे दर्शक सुनते रहते हैं, अपने अश्रुओं को रोकने का असफल प्रयास करते हुए…
लेकिन आसन्न विरह के इस क्षण में उर्मिला उतनी चंचला भी नहीं रह पाती, जिसका प्रयास वह अब तक कर रही थी! वह नन्हीं सी बच्ची, वह चंचला किशोरी अब अपने लक्ष्मण को उपदेश दे रही है, “… आज मुझे लड़ना नहीं है। सुनो, तुम ना… भैया-भाभी की सेवा में, कुछ अपना ध्यान भी रख लेना। खिला के भैया-भाभी को कुछ अपने नाम भी रख लेना। समय पे उठना, समय पे खाना, उल्टी करवट मत सोना। याद मेरी आ भी जाये, भैया के आगे मत रोना।”
‘उल्टी करवट मत सोना…’ उस दिशा में शैया पर उर्मिला होती थी! अब जब वह वहाँ नहीं होगी, तो लक्ष्मण को अपनी मिला की याद आयेगी, उन्हें सन्ताप होगा! अपने विरह से बड़ा उस मानिनी के लिये है अपने प्रिय के विरह का भान!

लेकिन विरह-सन्ताप के साथ-साथ इस सीता-भगिनी को कर्त्तव्य-बोध भी है! ‘याद मेरी आ भी जाये, भैया के आगे मत रोना।’ अपने व्यक्तिगत सन्ताप के क्षणों में भी कर्त्तव्य-बोध के होने का इससे बड़ा उदाहरण और क्या हो सकता है!
दोनों के बीच वार्तालाप सतत प्रवाहमान है. प्रेक्षागृह का वायुमण्डल प्रेक्षकों की निस्तब्ध साँसों और आँखों की नमी से बोझिल होता चला जाता है. लक्ष्मण कहते हैं, “मिला… ना राम को, ना सीता को, ना लक्ष्मण को ये श्राप मिला। यदि सच में मिला किसी को तो उर्मिला को ये वनवास मिला। मिला, तुम महलों में रह कर भी वनवास का जीवन भोगोगी। मोर के संग मोरनी को देखोगी, तो भी रो दोगी। पर आह, दुर्भाग्य। मेरी मिला का वनवास ना वतर्मान याद रखेगा, ना इतिहास। उर्मिला का वनवास कोई याद नहीं रखेगा।”

लेकिन उर्मिला को अपने लक्ष्मण पर अटूट विश्वास है, “झूठ कहते हो, कोई याद रखे या ना रखे, मिला का वनवास, लक्ष्मण याद रखेगा। रखेगा ना।” और फिर दोनों ही अपने को रोक नहीं पाते… संयम के सारे बांध टूट जाते हैं… दोनों गले मिल कर फफक कर रो पड़ते हैं। उर्मिला का लक्ष्मण पर यही अटूट विश्वास बहुत वर्षों के बाद लक्ष्मण को रूपवती राक्षसी सूर्पणखा से दूर रखने में सफल होता है! सावित्री की कथा इतिहास में कितनी बार दोहराई गई है!
नाटक के लेखक, निर्देशक और प्रस्तुतकर्ता अतुल सत्य कौशिक ने अपने नाटक को कथावाचक के फॉर्मेट में तैयार किया है. मंचाग्र में दाहिने हाथ पर कुर्सी पर बैठ कर अतुल पूरी कथा के सूत्र को अपने हाथ में थामे, एक कुशल नाविक की भांति दर्शकों को इस कथा-गंगा की यात्रा करवाते हैं. इस कथा-यात्रा की पतवार हैं नृत्य और सजीव गायन, जिसमें लोक से लेकर शास्त्रीय तक सबका समायोजन अतुल ने किया है. अंजली मुंजाल की अत्यन्त सुन्दर और प्रीतिकर नृत्य-संरचनाओं को सुष्मिता मेहता और साथियों ने कत्थक नृत्य के द्वारा प्रस्तुत किया.

एक घंटे और चालीस मिनट के इस नाटक को अतुल ने केवल तीन कलाकारों सुष्मिता मेहता, अर्जुन सिंह और मेघा माथुर के द्वारा प्रस्तुत किया है, जो दृश्यों के अनुसार विभिन्न चरित्रों को बारी-बारी से निभाते हैं. नाटक के आकर्षण का प्रमुख आधार-स्तम्भ है लतिका जैन का गायन. दूसरा स्तम्भ है नाटक में नृत्यों का प्रयोग. आज हिन्दी रंगमंच में गायन और नृत्य का प्रयोग लगभग समाप्त हो चुका है. कविता, गीत, गानों, गजल इत्यादि के माध्यम से निर्देशक ने विभिन्न भावों और संवेदनाओं को दिखाया है. मैथिल सुहाग-गीत ‘साँवर साँवर सुरतिया तोहार दुलहा, गोरे गोरे लखन … दुलहा’, अवधी के विदाई गीत ‘काहे को ब्याही बिदेस’, रामनिवास जाजू की हिन्दी कविता, और हिन्दी, उर्दू, फारसी, बृजभाषा इत्यादि के एक प्रसिद्ध गीत जेहाल-ए-मिस्कीं इत्यादि को प्रयोग करके अतुल ने आज के समय में एक साहसिक प्रयोग किया है… जिसकी बानगी हमने बापी बोस के नाटक ‘आषाढ़ का एक दिन’ में भी देखी थी. कुछ लोग इस नाटक को डांस-ड्रामा या नृत्य-नाटिका का नाम देंगे. मैं इस प्रकार के पश्चिमी वर्गीकरण के विरुद्ध हूँ… हमारे नाट्यशास्त्र में कलाओं को एक समग्र तरीके से देखने का प्रावधान है, ना कि उन्हें एक-दूसरे से अलग करके देखने का, जो मुझे ज्यादा उचित लगता है. अतुल के सैट की परिकल्पना में भी कहीं अल्पना जैसी पारम्परिक शैलियों की झलक मिलती है.

नाटक में प्रकाश-व्यवस्था तरुण डांग ने और ध्वनि-व्यवस्था दीप्ति ग्रोवर ने सम्भाली थी. संगीत निर्देशन अनिक शर्मा का रहा. गायन जीवन्त था, लेकिन संगीत कराओके था, क्योंकि, ‘संगीतकारों को साथ लेकर चलना सम्भव नहीं हो पाता!’, अतुल कहते हैं. हिन्दी रंगमंच की यही विडम्बना है, कि एक प्रस्तोता को कितने ही समझौते करने पड़ते हैं!

SO YOU GET WHAT YOU WISH a play by Gouri Nilakantan

A Children’s Play by Gouri Nilakantan
(For performing this play, read the corollary at the bottom)

Zooli/Mr Anthony Lobo
Wise guy/ Rohit
Fullon-rockon/ Puskar

(Anthony lobo enters the stage. He has a strange hairdo and is wearing a long red overcoat)
Lobo/Zooli: good evening and greetings my dear little friends and all their grownups. I know introductions are entirely unnessacry sometimes and the play should speak for itself but I need to explain why I am here. NO you don’t want to hear…ok then let me tell you all a secret…I make…I make…I make wishes come true…yes yes….just like the fairy god mother of Cinderella or a fairy queen but only I am a man in this case….no not man…actually let me let you know my real name my name is ZOOOOOOOOOOOOLI…Zooli…from the nether nether world…the world that only I know…hey I can hear someone…its time for my disappearance but don’t worry friends only to appear once again…

(A house setting. Three children on the stage, one child is playing on his train set and the other two enter)
Freeman: There he is (pointing to fullonrockon) hey pushkar

(Pushkar does not respond)
Fr: hey puskar… (Waits a second and then goes to him and gives him a loud push, pushkar falls on the floor)
Fullon: what did you do that for my dear dear rahul?
Freee: because my dear dear dear Pushkar…what is your name? Pushkar…yani push…karo…pushkar

(Wise guy also comes near and is eating a lollipop and starts laughing)
Wiseguy: hey that’s funny…push…kar…push kar
Puskar: stop it guys…you all know I hate my name…why don’t you call me what I am supposed to be called …that’s FULLONROCKON…I rock guys I rock
Wise guy: yes yes you do rock, you are as heavy as a rock anyway hahaha
Puskar: yes that’s why we call you wise guy…you wise guy…
Wise guy: I am a wise guy…the wisest guy in this gang
Freeman: but listen I am the boss of this gang…I am the eldest
Pushkar: says who
Freeman: says me…that’s who
Wise-guy: Rahul (freeman looks at him sternly)…sorry Freeman…
Freeman: guys don’t forget the rules…in this club we have to only call each other by our code names got it…wise guy?
Wise guy: yes yes got it freeman
Freeman: what about you? Got it Fullonrockon? Yes …or no
Fullon: yes yes got it. So whats our plan for today?
Freeman: well this week I think we have to draw out our plan for our club activities.
Wiseman: what about collecting insects this week?
Freeman: no we have done that last month, remember Chaluram our ant…how he died?
Fullon: poor little chap; he was suffocated, what an idea to keep him in an insect jar which had been an achaar jar poor fellow died of smelling all aam ka acchar.
Wiseman: now what do we do?
Freeman: what about getting all the dogs together and giving them a pet party?
Wiseman: my mother would never agree she absolutely refuses to part with her biscuits.
Fulon (looking very disappointed): now what do we do?
Wiseman: hey have you heard about that new neighbour of ours…he lives opposite my house.
Freeman: you mean that fat guy who keeps shouting at the drivers, yahan betne ki jagah nahi hain…bhaago
Wiseman: arre nahi that fat guy is in hospital…I heard that he had kicked a dog and the dog bit him
Fullon: arre nahi yaar, he ate too many old pizzas and the whole night he went (holds his nose) purr purr purr
Wiseman: how do you know?
Fullon: my didi told me …puskar beta…pizza mat kha…pata hain bechaar arora uncle hospital main hain kyuki kitna pizza khaya ki per hi kharaab ho gaya…bechare arora uncle…ha ha ha
Wiseman: arre nahi not arora uncle this is one strange guy, Mr Anthony Lobo…really strange…keeps all his doors and windows locked and curtained even during the day and only sets out at night after seven when it is all dark
Fullon: really
Wiseman: and children say that he wears a dark red clock in the night…
Fullon: baap re…dar lag raha hain
Wiseman: yes…and I also heard that he drinks the blood of cockroaches and hearts of frogs for dinner…. (Makes an eerie sound)
Freeman: ok then decided…its Anthony lobo then. This week we have to enter his house and enter his bedroom
Fullon: baap re…enter his bedroom now that’s tough
Freeman: allright allright just make sure that we can enter his house and search for his red cloak
Wiseman: you mean the magical one
Freeman: that is our mission…everybody with me…Wiseguy?
Wiseguy: yes sire!!!
Freeman: fullon rockon?
Fullon: well I am not sure…this week I have a history test
Wiseguy: liar! History test in class one? History starts in class V allright…you better come rockon…see you are the youngest and the cutest mr lobo will never suspect you…never
Freeman: that’s right since you are the youngest you can make an easy entry and then we all can barge in…And while I keep talking to Mr lobo, you freeman try and get his coat
Fullon: and then…???
Freeman: we will decide that later…first we must enter Mr Lobo’s house
Wiseguy: ok operation LOBO …thumbs up
All three: THUMBS UP

(Freeze music is heard end of scene one)
(Music is heard enter Anthony lobo and goes to the dresser and pulls out a red cloak and removes his waist coat and mutters to himself)
Lobo: very good very good…I look fine….Zooli from zooli land…hahahah (hears a knock on the door) now who is hear let me check…first let me hide this cloak…no one should see it (looks through the window) three children…hmmm…interesting….three fine specimens for my next experiment…maybe I should call them in (door bell rings again)…wait a second….just coming (wears his coat and opens the door) yes…
Wiseguy: uncle uncle…we are children…
Lobo (sternly): yes of course I can see you are children…now what do you want
Rockon: uncle…I mean sir…sir…
Lobo: what sir…sir
Freeman: uncle we are selling raffle tickets….for our school party!
Lobo: school party
Freeman: yes sir…no sir…I mean school carnival
Lobo: so…???
Wiseman: so let us into your house
Lobo: into my what?
Freeman; sir ignore him…he is saying can you please please please buy our tickets
Lobo: ok
Freeman: sir sir…rockonfullon…i mean fullonrockon…I mean puskar is thirsty
Rockon: hey I am not thirsty
Freeman: of course you are (winking at him)….are you not
Rockon: yes sir…I am dying of thirst…water water….
Wiseguy: sir I think he will collapse if you don’t give him water
Freeman: sir he is fainting (holds him while he sways) can we take him inside your house sir
Lobo: ok ok…but make sure he is our as soon as he becomes better
Wiseguy: sir ham aaye aur gaye…I mean no problem sir
Rockon: paani paani paani chakkar aa gaya…paani
Lobo: ok ok before you faint at my doorstep come in…(Takes them inside)…you guys sit here…( turns to leave but comes back at once) and don’t touch anything especially that cupboard…just no touching

(He leaves and rockon grins)
Rockon: hey guys how was I…super cool right
Wiseguy: tu cool nahi fool hain…why were you overacting like that paani paani…I am fainting
Rockon: listen just because I was looking so cure he let you all inside
Wiseguy: OK cutie pie
Freeman: hey you two stop fighting…quick let’s try and find his cloak…you go there you search in that cupboard and let me see under the table
Wise guy: (finding the cloak) hey guys…I found it….here it is
Rockon: gosh it’s big
Freeman: hey don’t touch it…just let it be…it could be magical…

( Zooli enters and says in loud commanding tome)
Zooli: stop freeze all of you (the children look scared and see Zooli)…stop at once…come here (the children all come close to him)…did anyone of you touch the cloak
Rockon: sir…I…I
Zooli: you did! (he is pleased)…good good good
Freeman: good sir!
Zooli: yes good because you have broken the spell!!!
Freeman: spell what spell
Zooli: I think I better explain…I am actually a fairy god father…
Rockon: fairy god father…hahahah funny
Zooli: why can’t guys be fairies?
Wiseguy: ok ok so you are a wizard
Zooli: well technically you can say that but I am a good wizard…
Wiseguy: so you are not Anthony Lobo
Zooli: Actually I was doomed to become a man by a wicked witch. I accidently stumbled upon a secret that she was working on…a magic potion so she cast a spell on me and turned me into a man.
Wiseguy: being a man is not such a bad thing
Zooli: try being a wizard…I mean fairy god father and then you will understand the benefits of being a wizard. Anyway let’s cut the conversation short as I was saying
Freeman: we have broken your spell
Zooli: yes now that you have found my cloak and broken my spell I am only zoooli ZOOOOLI no Mr Lobo shobo…how I hated that…so I need to give you something in return for this….SO YOU GET WHAT YOU WISH
Freeman: get what we wish
Zooli: yes your wish is my command tell me what you want and I will get you that, tell me where you want to be and you can go there, tell me what you want to become and you can become that
Rockon: wow three wishes
Zooli: sorry only one
Rockon: but fairy god mothers give three wishes to people and we found your cloak, broke your spell …that’s not fair
Zooli: no just one wish…so what do you guys want
Wiseguy: I would rather I became someone…I always wanted to be something like my life
Zooli: your wish is my command
Wiseguy: I wanted to become a star all my life
Zooli: a pop star, a rock star, a bollywood star…amir khan, salman khan, sharukh khan
Wiseguy: no a star…a star in the sky….a star that looks upon the planets something like interstellar
Lobo: are you sure that you want to become that?
Wiseguy: oh absolutely, infact that swat I want most of all
Lobo: ok then
Rockon: ok take out your magic wand then
Lobo: no need for the wand let me just read your charm
Wiseguy: hey I haven’t changed
Lobo: it will start working once your back home, don’t worry. (Turning towards freeman) Ok now rahul….sorry free man what’s your scene?
Freeman: I don’t want t become some silly star….I just love candy….why don’t you make me a taster in a candy factory. My mother will never scold me for eating so many lollipops then…yummy I can see such good times coming ahead…candy for day and candy for night…please that’s what I want. Yes a candy taster…nothing more nothing less
Lobo: are you sure
Freeman: you promised
Lobo: yes yes so you get what you wish
Freeman: wow, thanks Zooli…you are amazing, marvellous and stupendous….A zillion, million thanks

(Zooli turns towards the last child, fullonrockon)
Zooli: so you are now the last and your wish is also my command, what do you want to become
ROckon: well actually I can’t tell you that since it’s a big secret
Wiseguy: hey how can he make you into anything if you don’t tell it?
Rockon: no people will alugh at me but I am really seious bout it I want to become that and nothing else
Lobo: go on speak your mind; no one will dare laugh at you while I am here
Rock on: well ok then…I want to become a rock
Wiseguy: a rock…hahahahah….
Rockon: see I told you that they would laugh did I not…now I am not talking to anybody…I don’t to become anything
Wiseguy: hey sorry yaar…really sorry batana
Rockon: I want to become a rock because I have a reason…actually I really hate my name…people keep on making fun of it. So if l become a rock no one will be able to push me anymore. Infact if they tried I could just roll over and crush their legs….hahahah
Lobo: that seems only like a fair deal…I think it’s high time you became a rock….that’s right…
So guys…happy now
All three: absolutely, you are the best…this is great
Lobo: remember one thing fellows; we will all meet in a week time. This spell needs weekly rejuvenation its needs its weekly dose. So do meet me next week, bye and best of luck

(Music is heard, and enters lobo)
Lobo: A so dear friend one week is over and it’s time for my liitle buddies to start arriving. Hope everything will go according to my plan…fine little specimens I found and they all walked straight into my plan…good good wait I can see them

(Enter the three kids looking very very sad and downcast)
Lobo: hey kids how are you…
Three: (in a very small voice) hi Mr. Zooli
Lobo: so how has it been going for you all fine?
Freeman: hmmm ok I guess
Wiseguy: yes just fine
Rockon: (looks very upset)…hmmm fine…oh what do I say…and starts crying…not fine not fine…I can’t stand this torture anymore
Lobo: why guys…look sit down relax and tell him what happened
Freeman: sir…sir
Wiseguy: sir we are not happy just not happy…infact we are not only sad but miserable
Rockon: please sir…I have my old self back…I don’t like this get up…I hate this
Lobo: ok guys just relax first and then tell, you start freeman
Freeman: I was so happy being that candy taster at first…nestle, cadbury, lollipops, sweets, hajmola candy…life was perfect…but I had to eat only that for one whole week..(pulls out his tongue)…see this my poor taste buds…I hate the idea of anything sweet…I want to eat simple dal roti chawal and aloo ki sabji…mummy ke haath ka khana…never an chocolate again in my entire life…the idea of even a small piece of candy makes me want to… yuck
Rockon: sir sir…I hate being a rock, at first I was so happy that I could just sit and laze around, relax and chill in the sun…imagine no school, no homework just lie down and feel happy and I was so happy no one could dare push me. But all that sitting down has made me so sad, I want to walk normally, play and run
Lobo: and what about you wise guy
Wiseguy: I well…I wud hate to tell a lie but being star is actually no fun. I thought I was sooper cool guy in this whole galaxy…but I was in this huge space so far away from my home. I could only be seen in the night and i was far away from my friends, my mom dad everybody…and it was cold …my gosh so cold in the galaxy and I could not even wrap myself in something warm because I was too big. I want my old self back…please please
Rockon yes sir please sir
All three: pleaseeeee pleaseeeee
Lobo: ok ok…but this spell is permanent
Wiseguy: no you can’t say that, you are a good fairy father not a wicked one, we will do anything
All thre: yes sir anything…
Lobo : anything
All Three: yes sir we swear
Lobo: well will you be good children, not fight with each other, help each other and be the best neighbours?
Three: yes sir
Lobo: will you be kind to mr.Arora and not barge in people’s houses just to harass them and
Three: yes sirs never never never disturb the old and the sick?
Lobo: will you help your parents in the house and do your homework without winging and whining
Rockon: do homework…sir
Wiseguy: ignore him sir…sir I will dp jhaadu, poncha baratan, cook the food and do my homework…i promise
Lobo: do you promise to be generous and kind and share everything with other children…even your best toys
Rockon: my best toy
Wiseguy: ignore him sir
Freeman: yes sir, yes sir
Lobo: allright then…your spell will wear out as soon as you leave my house. Let me tell you a secret I came from the nether world looking for the best specimen for this experiment and now I can return back to nether world.
Freeman: experiment
Lobo: yes experiment, I wanted to teach children never to wish for something that they don’t know about. Because YOU GET WHAT YOU WISH so one should only wish for the best and nothing but the best. Now that my job is done, I can return back happily to netherland. Ok guys one last thing now what do you all want to become when you grow up

(Zooli laughs and the others join him and music is heard)

The Playwright, permits theatre practitioners to perform this play Royalty free, with one request, please message us in the comment box if you are interested in doing this play. Also if and when you schedule your play, inform us and our readers in the comment box about it. Who knows someone might amble into your show after reading your message.


Sexually Explicit Content – Well, the phrase itself provokes many intelligent communities to either hide their face behind the four walls of the house or to protest against it in loud volumes. I must say, the opening scene of the play AGARBATTI -(Directed By: Swati Dubey Produced By: Samagam Rangmandal  Written by Ashish Pathak, the play has bagged four awards at Mahindra Excellence in Theater Awards META)is been so intelligently devised by the director that it resists both these reactions in the most convincing manner. The scene is brutal in its explicit provocation of sexual act openly but, in spite of the same, it forces admiration for the craftsmanship that works behind making such a sensuous implication bold and yet appreciable in its own right.

Women who are the major participants of this scene inviting and enacting sexual insinuations manage to extract the susceptibility that stimulates sexual urge and receptivity towards sexual matters in the feminine gender. The most significant part of the reality about women especially those in the conservative Indian rural areas (now I am not generalizing here though) who despite being apparently uninitiated in the matters of sex, as the world knows it, display their repressed sexual urge through such innuendos. Primarily, this sort of depiction on the proscenium in front of an apparently cultured urban audience accompanies the predicament of these women being stereotyped as flagrant on account of the evident unconcern about propriety. The consideration that the lack of urban literacy in these ladies may provoke them to comply with blatant projections of the kind they choose to engage into in such private gatherings exclusively for women may or may not be the conscious level of acceptance in the midst of the educated audience. The same being represented in a rural set up amidst village audience also may not offer a neat solution for the participants. This is because, the onslaught of orthodoxy may not give it a fair chance to explain the social reality that forces the play participants to opt for such depictions that escape revering societal taboos against phenomenon like sex.

Witnessing the scene, it seems the director makes a bold choice; the one that lets him the freedom to outdo inhibitions that often mar the essence of the play despite an interesting script. That sexual acts do often have the potential to be synonymous with brutality is the implication one explicitly gathers when one watches the sexual act being symbolically represented through the means of an enactment and gives a feel of the supposed theme (Now I need to watch the play to comment more on this) this play perhaps would be dealing with coercion the women often encounter with respect to overbearing masculine tendencies. It is this very intent that makes the apparent sexual content in the scene worth watching (particularly for those that know its content) as it emblematically proclaims the reason to justify its inception on the stage. It works as a foreboding of a gruesome massacre that is perhaps supposed to occur next. However, for someone (as I) who has no knowledge of the subject matter on which the play is based nor has access to the entire script of the play, this entire scene comes as a jolt for the manner and the extent to which a sexual intercourse is celebrated elevates curiosity to construe the reason that it has been done this way. Therefore, the scene appears relevant to those that know the reason and interests those that do not know the reason for the explicit proclamation of sex in the opening scene of this drama. This (I feel) makes it a justifiable attempt in spite of its radical nature and helps it survive the jeopardy of questions or objections that accompany a presentation of such an explicit kind. When you explicitly dramatize “let’s have sex” for the people, you are required to maintain a symbolic decorum which does not exclude the need to be barefaced. This paradox is a difficult challenge and to a great extent it has been managed very well by making women participants cover their visage (full/half) with veils that douse their brazen nature in spite of its openness- and it’s supposed to be so in conventional milieu(supposedly). Moreover, the mannerisms of theirs in terms of aping a sexual intercourse are well regulated in spite of the recklessness because every time you see the actor in disguise of a man attempting to assault, there is an obvious emphasis on the mode of representing it as a part of a dramatization than a realistic event. There is a dramatized attempt, extremely effective by the women to thwart him from the shameless act.

When you witness the entire dramatization, since it appears ‘dramatic’, it convinces that it is not ruthless in spite of obviously trying to show the ruthlessness that accompanies such acts which embody forceful subjugation of women. A well balanced attempt which certainly shows how tactfully a vigilant and responsible theatre practitioner can manage the repercussions that are invariably a part of such a portrayal which intends to upset many brand ambassadors of decency and propriety. Well, admitting the fact that sobriety is an essential responsibility to be observed in artistic endeavours, I also feel that the needful depiction of violence and sex may not be essentially curbed but rather could be exposed taking full advantage of the scope that theatre offers; to dramatize the dramatic content. I felt, this scene is a vital to  construe the relevance of histrionics that must be in close proximity with reality but not lose connect with the genre of “performance”. It is this distanced involvement of this scene with ‘realism’ that erases all issues pertaining to decorum instead of avoiding it entirely as a tabooed matter or criticizing its candour, watching it makes one rethink about the societal indifference towards certain realities that has ushered the need for art to penetrate into such explicit rebuttal of the so-called morality. As a result one cannot help but admire its intensity apart from anything else…therefore; the dramatized sexual havoc on stage appears so arresting!

For comments (if any) please post in the box below.
For more information on the play please visit:
Agarbatti: The Play – http://metawards.com/plays/agarbatti

‘TRUNK TALES’ lives up to Neelam Mansingh’s unique presentation style

Neelam Mansingh Choudhry is a well-known name in Hindi theatre world.  A student of Ebrahim Alkazi at the National School of Drama, she has been running her group, The Company in Chandigarh since 1983.  Her work always shows the high standards of production in her presentations, displaying the values inculcated by Alkazi in his students.  Her plays like Kitchen Katha, Yerma, Naked Voices, Nagmandal etc. have received loud applause from the public, as well as received rave reviews from the critics.  Her work has also earned her well-deserved international recognition.

Recently she brought her Hindi/English/Punjabi play ‘Trunk Tales’ to the IHC Theatre Festival in Delhi.  It was a solo performance, although bearing the same old well-known mark of hers on the production.  Her plays are generally based on her everyday observations and experiences of day-to-day life.  She is master of creating magical moments out of the daily mundane chores of household.  Remember the childhood games… ‘Akkad bakkad bambe bo assi nabbe poore sau…’, or ‘Machhli jal ki rani hai…’?  That innocence of the childhood was present on the stage in this play… the innocence, which remains with us through our life-time, but which also becomes the ‘other’ thing of our life as we grow old!

A non-scripted performance piece, the play ‘Trunk Tales’ revolved around telling stories in a Dadi-Nani style, bringing out stories out of their ‘potlis’… only that, here, the ‘potlis’ have been replaced in this play by four trunks kept on the stage.  Stories tumble out of these trunks one by one, bringing us face to face with that ‘otherness’ in life.  The point she wanted to stress upon was that we generally live within certain boundaries, as per the set rules of behaviour.  Anything not conforming to these sets of rules creates a sense that the person going beyond these boundaries of rules is not one of us… he is the ‘other’ person in the society.  She takes support of poems, childhood stories and little play-songs, small episodes, some memories for presenting her ‘non-linear’ stories, to tell about the people who don’t really fit in,” she said to someone in an interview.

These stories strived to present the ‘otherness’ in life… stories on politics of water, body-abuse including rape and child abuse representing no control on one’s own body, hunger, and finally trans-gender behaviour…  It is difficult to present the ‘otherness’ in gender in a palatable way, but Vansh Bhardwaj deserves applause for performing this difficult task so well… he knows how to use his body on the stage.  “I had to develop different body languages and understand the psychology of the characters.” Vansh said in an interview some time ago!  I have seen Swatilekha Sengupta performing a full two and a half hours long solo ‘Shanu Roychoudhury’ on this very stage many many years ago.  I hope to watch Vansh repeat that wonder some time, under the direction of Neelam Mansingh Choudhry sometime in future.

A Scene from Trunk Tales

In ‘Trunk Tales’, she had kept a few trays filled with water on the floor of the stage.  With water, she wanted to present an essential element of life, which has a flexible nature, a fluidity, and gets easily moulded to take any shape.  Water worked as the element of life represented in the stories told by the actor on the stage, who presented stories full of vigour and vibrancy of every daily life!  Keeping the sets to a minimal is her known style as well as the need of the hour in today’s constrained situations as far as presenting a play in an auditorium is concerned.  Keeping the sets to a minimal also helps her create the ambience through the props and the activities of her actors on the stage.

She has done a play ‘Kitchen Katha’ on the theme of fire (although she concedes that the theme of fire was not on her mind when she did ‘Kitchen Katha’, neither was water on her mind while doing this play).  Now she has done a play with water as its theme.  We hope she comes out with the remaining three elements of life, earth, air and pran!

The thing that we missed the most in this play was live music by the folk singers of Punjab, her famous hallmark.  She has done a lot in the past to revive Punjab’s folk music, which had suffered a severe blow in the troubled times of Khalistani terrorism in Punjab in the eighties of the twentieth century.  She tells that it is Corona to be blamed for missing on music… our theatre-persons have not been able to come out of the after-effects of Corona still.  She avers, “we are still coming out of the effects of Corona, and it will take some time before we can come back to our own basics”.

Best thing about her plays is that she does not try to make them a make-believe world… she actually brings the reality to the auditorium.  Some of you might have enjoyed hot jalebis prepared by the ‘halwai’ in the auditorium itself while watching her play ‘Kitchen Katha’!  Alas, the jalebis did not reach me, as I was sitting in the sixth-seventh row on that day!  She had taken inspiration from her childhood impressions of the tradition of ‘langar’ in Punjab for ‘Kitchen Katha’, where community cooking used to take place.  In ‘Trunk Tales’ also, Vansh has a thali full of real food, and enjoying it actually on the stage, instead of empty thalis, cups and glasses, through which the directors ask the actors to pretend eating or drinking … this adherence to ‘reality’ makes Neelam’s plays a REAL treat for the eyes!

She plans to do Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana in Hindi coming February.  It is being planned to be done on a big scale.  She avers that the actors from across the country will be a part of this production.  She is using Karanth’s translation for this production, although with some new insights into the play, keeping in mind the sensibilities of the modern times.

Neelam Man Singh
Neelam Man Singh

On the issue of the trends in play-writing these days, she does feel that more new plays are needed with newer sensibilities in mind.  She feels that there should be deeper connection between the writer and director while developing new plays.  Making one’s own script by the director, in collaboration with the actor/s, is a new trend according to her, although it is not new… it has always been resorted to by the directors and writers.  She quoted the making of Mohan Rakesh’s plays by Alkazi, and also pasting of the new plays on the walls of Paris by Moliere, to solicit the response from the public directly during the writing of the play!

Folk Theatre of India: Koothu

Koothu which is also called Therukoothu is a Tamilian art form that incorporates dancing and music in the backdrop of narration and presentation of epics in the Tamil Language. The Dravidian society has been a harbour of cultural nourishment since time immemorial. It is believed that the Koothu had originated in the early days of the Dravidian Tamilakam.

The term Koothu refers to two performing arts viz. Terukuttu and Kattaikkuttu. In contemporary times, the two terms have an interchangeable usage. However, in medieval times, the two terms referred to two entirely different dramatics art forms. Kattaikkuttu consists of performances that take place overnight at a stationary fixed place. Terukuttu often refers to mobile and non-stationary performances that usually take place in a procession.

The prominence in its growth was achieved by Koothu during the medieval eras wherein during the Sangam era. This peak is clearly reflected in the Sangam literature which lay a preface to the nurturing of the natagam(drama), isai(music) and iyal(dance). The Sangam literature also etched out the fact that the Koothu acted as a medium for the education of religion, tradition and history in the rural strata of society.

Kothu, in its inherent settings, does not include any spoken dialogues, it only consists of songs and music. The dance of Koothu has an informal structure and tone to it, with the backdrop of performances being the depiction of scenes from the Hindu mythologies like Ramayana and the Mahabharata along with some Tamil classics. Heavy, colourful and intricate costumes blended with elaborated and extravagant makeup are used by the performers in the drama. Sparkling shoulder plates, towering head gears and wide skirts. Since no amplification instruments are used, the performers are trained to sing in their voices at a high pitch so that they can amass the entire audience.

Koothu had been traditionally a male-centric theatre form, however with the change of times female participation has significantly increased. Over the years, there had been no institution for formal education of Koothu, however recently the koothu pattari (workshops for koothu) and an array of dedicated schools have been set up to save the dying art.

Independent Project by Abhinav Sharma

Guide ⇒ Prof. Manohar Khushalani

References :

  1. Therukoothu, The Street Theatre of Tamilnadu
  2. Theru Koothu: A Tamil street theatre tradition in danger of fading into oblivion has found a new lease on life


Lockdown Lover

By Dr. Payal Trivedi

Well, any theatre performance is meant to entertain is an understatement today because we have all come to terms with the fact that theatre is much more than simply a mode of refreshment. Investing our time and energy in beholding any performance ought to enable us enough food for thought not just by being didactic but by helping us realize our weaknesses, our flaws and misdemeanours that may have led us to falsely believe in the material notion of scepticism that seems to have crept in all our walks of life today. We tend to always engage in self doubt, of essentially questioning the obvious and of incessantly negating all possibilities of giving stability to our lives. All that today’s worldly compartments of propriety and impropriety have given us is a bizarre set of meaningless precepts. These we follow mechanically with the fear of being ostracized by the so called normal society or flout entirely as a means of blatant rebuttal against the stringent myopic framework that often surrounds rules made for whom we label the ‘Normal Man’. The category of the ‘normals’ includes those that bear the onus of proclaiming ‘acting’ according to the stipulated socio-cultural norms as a mark of sanity. This excludes any kind of aberration which may disturb the so called normal setting of a ‘settled home and family’ we humans often propagate as an insignia of ‘orderly mental health’. Unfortunately for us, anything anyone does different from having a perfectly settled home is conventionally considered unhealthy and the primary cause of mental illness.

Well, the message is simple and clear but is conveyed through an essentially ‘vague’ motivation towards choosing ‘absurd’ mode of theatrical performance that leads the motto of laying bare this extremely vital issue hay ways. First and foremost, the disorderly array of character shifting that we come across mars the charm of this rendition at its very onset. That stage cannot capture the nuances of facial expressions is a matter of common understanding and therefore, it is obvious that when the actor shifts from one character to another, the performance does not seem to deal efficiently with this change simply because it is not required prominently to showcase the difference. When there is an overbearing energy that tries to dominate or suppress the other and the explicit resistance of the other is being displayed with repressed tendencies, it obviously should impart a lesson of a ‘toxic relationship and its repercussions’ when in this performance it comes out as an ‘enforced torture’ upon the audience to make them forcefully assent to the ‘failure of values’. This failure is so anointed with the cumbersome obsession of anomaly that can be seen in the character using the ‘whip’ that acts as a paradigm of inexplicable violence that puzzles due to the lack of clarity. A more structured absurdism(If I am permitted to use this expression) would have made it intelligible rather than prolix one, the performance chooses to adopt the ‘heightened potency of absurdism’ that is needless and I feel is so overwhelming that it almost nullifies the importance of conveying at least, ‘some’ meaning.

I do feel that proportionate dose of the vaccine called ‘absurdism’ can boost our immunity but an overdose may completely lead to multiple organ failures and not being sarcastic at all as a viewer I definitely felt that is performance is beyond my level of comprehension. It is possible that this is ‘heightened intellectual apex that perhaps an ordinary theatre person as I may not be able to reach; definitely possible and I accept this with all humility!

A talented and popular theatre artist as Tathagata Chowdhury fails to cast a long lasting impression with his extraneous attempts to correlate absurd theatre with Indian bourgeois set up. This is simply because; the hypocrisy of today’s English speaking Indian families with ultra modern outlook ultimately boils down to having a settled home with children. This is not dual mindset I suppose but is an outcome of the age old Indian mentality of being culturally rooted to one’s customary adherence to tradition that seldom permits anomalous living. When Chowdhury tries to target the contemporary Indian society with its loopholes that disallow normalcy to them, he does not take into account the fact that the apparent aberration of tradition in India is equally a facade like its retention of its values is. That’s the reason that he cannot think beyond a ‘shattered morality’ tendency of the Indian modern class and is unsuccessful in his attempt to impress with his absolutely vague acting. In my opinion, it is a failed attempt of displaying absurdity ‘par excellence’ that gets ruined due to the pressure of creating an intellectual feast that often becomes tasteless when the ingredients are overused. We get a feel of being LOCKEDDOWN by absurdity of this lockdown lover who seems to have lost completely his senses in the motif of explaining the senselessness that prevails in our lives today; a fact that certainly cannot be denied but such bizarre engagement with the theme? I leave it to the viewers anyways.

Finally, I do acknowledge that drama is a means of self analysis that forbids insinuating anyone under any circumstance. This review is simply meant to give an unbiased outlook towards a performance and does not intend to dictate any opinion. Rest assured, it’s simply my personal perception folks!