Theater Watch: Aadhe Adhure is a tragic and touching play

Aadhe Adhure is a brilliant play by a brilliant author – Mohan Rakesh. You have to read some of his works to understand what you might be missing out on by not having read enough hindi literature.

The play was staged by Prime Time Theater Company and stars Mohan Agashe, Lillette Dubey, Ira Dubey, Rajeev Siddharth and Anushcka as the Nath family – Mahendra, Savitri, Binny, Ashok, and Kinny, a family torn at the seams.

Binny ran away from her home at a tender age with a man she thought she was in love with. Ashok is an aimless young man. Mahendra himself has been an unemployed man, and is a house husband. Kinni is a 14 year old girl not happy with making so many compromises in her everyday life, and crossing the threshold of being just a kid. And Savitri is the bread earner of the family, a woman with many wishes and desires from her and a woman who is perennially unhappy with the fact that the others in the family are not doing their bit. Not enough.

The first half of the play takes you through the threadbare relationships in the family, with Mahendra deciding to leave the family one day (which he does quite often apparently), and Savitri deciding to not care about anyone else’s but her own wishes. The number of times things are left half said makes the plot intriguing and you keep looking for the dirt that has been swept under the carpet. The secrets that every family has, the unexpressed emotions that often explain the expressed ones better.

The second half introduces two new characters – Jagmohan and Juneja. Jagmohan is from Savitri’s past and Juneja is a friend/mentor of Mahendra. How the endgame takes you to a very subtle understanding of human desires and how people keep looking for something more than what they have. The meaning of “Aadhe Adhure” is revealed here. That is what the play is all about.

As a cast, Mohan Agashe who plays 5-6 different characters (including Mahendra, Jagmohan, Juneja, etc.) , Lillette playing Savitri and the Rajeev playing the son are the pick of the lot. Rajeev has the angst of KayKay Menon, the way he carries himself. Lillette is the center piece of the play and is wonderful in her portrayal of a middle class woman, conservative in her life but liberal in her mind and actions. Mohan Agashe, with his subtle changes across the different characters that he plays is phenomenal. The personality swifts from the forgetful but lecherous boss to the playboyish Jagmohan, to the pedantic Juneja, and to the broken/frustrated Mahendra are extremely well played out.

It’s a two act play, and the set (which is the Nath household) is detailed but static. In fact, it is one of the more detailed sets that I have seen in recent times. Maybe, because, it must be a fairly old play. And the set is true to a low income household from a few decades back.

This one is not a comical fun play. Rather, it’s a play that makes you think too hard, and I am sure the Experimental Theater at NCPA (especially the side balcony seats) is not the best place to enjoy it from. But it’s an excellent play and must be enjoyed.

 

I would strongly recommend watching this one.

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Movie Review: Lincoln is intense, awesome, and gripping

When I started watching Lincoln this weekend, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. All I knew was that the movie was centered around the Thirteenth Amendment – which led to the abolition of slavery of colored folks/ blacks in America.

The movie starts with a scene from the civil war, somewhere after the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln and his famous  Gettysburg Addressthat we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. And quickly jumps forward to the point where Lincoln has been re-elected (1865) and his first term is nearing an end. It is at this stage that he decides to pursue the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment in the House of Representatives with all his energy, strength of character and conviction, and guile behind it.

The movie does a brilliant job of representing the three facets of Lincoln – the President, the lawyer, and the personal family side. The quality of reasoning, as you’d witness in some of the scenes (with Seward, Stanton, Stephens, Yeaman, Beasley, and others) can  be appreciated way better when you notice the next moment of deep agony and self doubt he has as a father and a husband. The iron hand that deals with the matters of the nation is as weak as any father’s hand when it comes to a quasi-rebellious son who wants to enlist. His relationship with his wife Mary is handled delicately, yet adequately. Daniel Day Lewis brings to life one of the most respected historical figures for not just America, but across the world. As Grant observes – By outward appearance, you’re ten years older than you were an year ago. To which Lincoln replies – Some weariness has bit at my bones.

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There is a scene where the attack at Fort Sumter has started and after an inordinately excessive amount of shelling the Fort still is holding up. Waiting for the final confirmation to arriveStanton Is all worked up. And that’s the moment Lincoln chooses to launch into another of his trademark stories. Stanton – “I don’t believe… that I can bear … to listen to another one of your stories right now!” Ah! The moment.

The other standout performances in the movie – Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens is funny as well as deeply relatable. The scene where he holds himself back while absolutely humiliating Wood and Pendleton– “How can I hold that all men are equal, when here before me stands, stinking the moral carcass of the gentleman from Ohio, proof that some men are inferior, endowed by their maker with dim wits, impermeable to reason with cold pallid slime in their veins instead of hot red blood…. So low and flat that the foot of man is incapable of crushing you!”

Stevens sums up the story – “The greatest measure of the nineteenth century, passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America”. I was hoping that the movie won’t conclude the way it did, for I did not want to be reminded of the folly of men that leads to assassinations.

The screenplay and dialogues are absolutely impeccable. While the creators might have had it easy with several documented records of what was said on several occasions (speeches and what nots), it’s thir ability to create those moments and the set pieces that lead to those conversations. What elevates the movie further is the acting and the camera work. I am reminded of Side by Side,  and I have a feeling that this movie is shot on film, and not on digital. All the actors have pulled out their finest – Sally Field as the mother, David Straithorn as Seward, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in that tiny role as Bob, James Spader as Bilbo and Bruce Mcgill as Stanton.

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As the preacher said, I could write shorter sermons but once I start, I get too lazy to stop. – Lincoln to his Cabinet

I can go on and on and on about why should watch this movie. But the short of it is that you MUST WATCH this movie. This is the kind of movie that gets my 5* rating.

Akaash Vani – Good Premise, Extremely Boring

AkashVani hits at an important issue  – a small town issue. The one that revolves around parents demanding a sacrifice off their children when it comes to matters of marriage, and the apparent sacrifice that some children do make and regret/ hold their parents guilty for. It also touches on the more serious issue of marital rape. Yet, all that is good about the story is undone by the weird snail pace and extremely meandering screenplay.

The first half holds better than the second half. First half takes you through the juvenile and teeny bopper affair of Akaash (Kartik Tiwari) and Vani (Nusrat Bharucha). Barring the inane and randomly corny dialogues, the chemistry of the lead pair keeps the first half together. Towards the end of the first half, the twist is introduced. Vani’s sister elopes on her wedding night, and vani is left to deal with devastated parents being preached at from every possible social angle, a phenomenon very common to urban and semiurban middle class families. With their world devastated, Vani makes the only clichéd compromise she could – she agrees to get married as per her parents’ wishes.

Except that the marriage is a bad idea, and the husband is an educated prick of the worst kind that all real and pseudo feminists would love to hate. He expects the wife to cook, not work, not study further, submit to his carnal desires at night (willingly or otherwise), takes jab at her for everything, and so on and so forth. This is the point where you can witness the quiet marital rape that an entire section of Indian women submit themselves to. Why? Because a divorce would further devastate their parents – ek bhaag gayee aur doosri ka divorce ho gaya! What should Vani do?

The movie just goes on and on and on and on by this time. The entire second half is a disaster in that sense. The same thing, if said, in less than two hours would have been excellent cinema. But by the time its done, you hate the movie for being so bad that you lose your appetite for even Chicken Momos.

Quite like Pyar ka Punchnama, this one loses momentum the moment it decides to move from quips to sentiyapa. Luv Ranjan has to figure out his ability to edit sentimental moments. There is a 5-10 minute capsule which is beautifully cut, but badly edited. It takes you through the life of Vani immediately after marriage. Moving from one day to another and back, and one scenario to another and back, it’s a beautiful scene. Except, that you get the point in the first 2-3 minutes and the rest of it is just excess baggage.

He reminds me of a different version of Sudhir Mishra, whose movies would be a different thing altogether, if he finds himself a good, ruthless and independent editor.

The other sore thumb was the music. All the songs should have had one stanza less. If not in the album, then at least in the movie.

The movie has a few positives – The story does not take the usual course, and in that sense, the script/ central theme is good. The only action sequence is the way Nusrat slaps the prick. It deals with small town sensibilities and the “love marriage issue” in these setups quite well. And also, the end scene is quite brilliant, I’d think.

The lead actors have acted very well. There are times whenImage Kartik Tiwari is not adequate for the intentisty the scene demands, but he holds quite well otherwise. Nusrat Bharucha is quite brilliant this time round. I was not convinced with her in PkP.  The friends and support cast is ok. I hated the entire love-senti section of PkP, and I am convinced now that Luv Ranjan should stick to fun moments  and jabs in his movies.

Overall, extremely passworthy movie. If you have downloaded a copy, keep skipping every now and then and finish the movie in about 45 minutes. You may actually like it then.

I am going with 1 on this one. Its closer to 1.5, but then, why be generous on this one?

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