Theatre Review: Katha Collage – II

I had seen Katha Collage-I a couple of years back in Delhi, and goes without saying that I was mighty impressed with the play (directed by Naseeruddin Shah, and enacted by an ensemble cast of Naseer himself, Jameel Khan, and Naseer’s son, Imaad Shah).

Katha Collage-I was based on a set of three stories (two written by Premchand – Shatranj ke Khiladi and Bade Bhai Saheb, and one written by Kamta Prasad – Sankraman – about peculiarities of a an aging father, and his fetish with switching off lights).

With the same set of great expectations, I went to see Katha Collage-II (at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai), expecting Naseer to weave his directorial magic there as well. This one, was a set of seven relatively smaller stories (adaptation of satirical articles written by Harishankar Parsai, who is known for his wit and humor in Hindi literature), pretty much carried out as one act plays. The star cast was recognizable, appropriate, but not the greatest. [Cast: Rakesh Chaturvedi, Arvind Pandey, Heeba Shah, Vishwajeet Pradhan, Ankur Vikal]

It’s a great play. But not in the same league as KC-I. However, the reason I am writing this post is not really to critique what I saw. I just want all the readers of this blog to definitely definitely watch KC-I as well as KC-II

The first story – Telephone (about the all pervasive telephone) is a disappointment. A little too loud, a little too vague, and the actors a little out of sorts. While the sarcasm is alive, not the impact.

Second – Bechara Bhala Aadmi (Pitiable nice men) is about how people take benefits of simpletons by calling them nice over and over again! This one was good both in terms of performance as well as adaptation. However, the length could be shortened a bit.

As we move towards the intermission, the tempo, the ease and the quality of performance improves, and refreshingly.

Third – (Private College ka Ghoshna Patra) The story around a Private College’s manifesto has some very subtle humor around the quality of education and the ulterior motifs behind the sprouting good-for-nothing private educational institutions. Not that I am against private educational institutions per se, but don’t we have a plethora of them that talk more than they deliver. Gaurav Sabnis became a big name in the blogosphere when he attacked one of them (wink, wink!)

Fourth (last before interval), which was about the whole fuss around taking bath (Snan), is the pick of the lot. The funniest of the plays, it features some of the most funny moments of KC-II, especially the comments about the vitality and energy shown by some people while taking bath in winters being utilized for some higher motives and national benefit!

 

After the interval, the fifth act is around the insecurities people have about their wives being exposed to other men (Vo Zara Wife Hain Na!). Quite subtle and a good dig on the Indian men, who are always caught in the dilemma of women’s equality and their own insecurity, it’s a nicely done play where the protagonist is a blind man (I could see this highest form of pun getting lost on many– you need to close your eyes to see what the world really is!)

Sixth act – (Samay Pe Milne Wale) around the demerits of being on time is again a timeless piece on the importance many people attach to the timing of their actions.

The finale – Prem Prasang mein Father (the role of a quintessential Indian dad in a love story) is a hilarious take on the double edged sword that impressing your girlfriend’s father can become!

 

The biggest drawback of the play, as I see it, in the metro circuits is the pure hindi language used (Klisht Hindi Bhasha), which I am sure goes over the head of many, who would like to look and feel intellectual, but have adopted Hin-glish as their mother tongue. That probably explains why “Vagina Monologues” is a bigger better sell-out play than plays like “Katha Collage”, “Jinne Lahore Ni Vekhya”, “Anaamdas Ka Potha”, et al.

The best thing about the play is that its a great writer’s work directed by one of the best in the industry (Naseer’s other works such as Waiting for Godot, The Prophet, Ismat Aapa Ke Naam, etc. are all acclaimed plays). It surely belongs to the “cannot be missed” list of plays!

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About Amit
Conventional, boring, believer, poet, Shayar (to be precise), lover of music, musical instruments, and all that can be called music (theoretically or metaphorically), jack of all master of none, more of a reader less of a writer, arbit philosopher, foolish debater.. and many more such things.. like so many people!

2 Responses to Theatre Review: Katha Collage – II

  1. Amit says:

    individual perceptions Deepak.. I still think Jameel was better than Naseer in Sankraman.. and Imaad was good for the role.. seemed to be fitting.. I haven’t seen the NSD version.. but would love to.. I am a big believer that NSD festival just takes every play a few notches upwards compared to the most popular theater groups! 🙂

  2. Deepak Arora says:

    I saw Kaha Collage-I and liked the plays in which Naseer himself was in the cast.

    Even today I can recollect those scenes where initially Naseer is shown having fettish for switching off lights and once he is gone, his sibling in the play develops the same after his departure..

    Bade Bhai Sahib, his son portraying the younger brother was just Okay compare to what I had seen in NSD by TIE artists.It was shown more in contemporary mode, like younger brother on the bike and with sun glasses etc. whereas there was no scope in Prem Chand’s Kahani for all this.

    Will see Katha Collage whenever it happens to be in Delhi.

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