Another visit to Prithvi – a Hindi play this time. I normally try to avoid those because most Hindi productions love to immerse themselves in cliche themes of ailing India and poverty. However, this one was both a surprise and a delight. It did not just keep away from these cliche themes, but dealt with philosophy in stead – something plays often keep away from. Perhaps because to deal with the abstract in front of audience, without the liberty of cinematography, is a very difficult task.
Directed and written by Manav Kaul, the play is the story of a middle-aged man who claims to have ‘Ilham‘ – a term from the holy Quran, which means a private revealation. Leading a very average middle life, he one day goes to a park and begins talking to an imaginary man. Slowly he begins to show signs of ‘madness’ as he plays with imaginary children in the park, talks to his imaginary man (Chacha) and becomes happier, even commits the sin of being satisfied. He begins to understand the mute and the birds, but forgets the human tongue.
His family is worried, running from doctors to magic men. And while they treat him like the mad man that he becomes to the world, his happiness hangs from a thin thread. Caught between the two worlds – the one that his Ilham promises and the one which he has created and cherished till now, he becomes miserable. That is when he realises that he has to chose one world – he cannot live in the promised world while being with his family and so he gives it up.
There is a lot of thought that this simple play with its less known cast but highly competent lightings could have generated. But it gave that slightly dissatisfactory feeling. I may not be living in 1984, and I may not want to dance spontaneously in the middle of the road – but if I ever want to, I know I am not free to do so.