Written by actor-director Vivek Vijayakumaran and playwright Suranjay Patil, the play traces the dilemmas of India’s middle-class
Towards the end of 2020 when the first wave of Covid-19 was slowly loosening its grip, Bengaluru-based collective Our Theatre started a short tour of its new Hindi play Adhura. The storyline is not based on the pandemic nor does is it draw inspiration from the protocols that followed. Yet it resonated with audiences in Nagpur, Kolhapur and at home turf.
Adhura dabbles in a number of thematic ideas — from the migration of the middle-class, political inaction among today’s youth to the unsettling reality of data security — that are seemingly distinct, but are entwined in the narrative. The 60-minute solo performance traces the life and struggles of this character, called Sanket Patil, who is constantly moving from one place to the other. The sense of incompleteness that he feels is the central tenet of this play, the makers of which describes it as “a contemplation on the shifts that happen between an individual’s place in the world and his thoughts”.
Born out of a 2019 playwriting workshop, the play took shape through the many phases of the Covid-induced lockdown last year, and was created on a zero budget. Suranjay Patil and Vivek Vijayakumaran have scripted the play, while the performance is ably guided by veteran actor-director Anish Victor. Adhura, according to Vivek, draws profusely from mythological characters and legends of history. The story is a lot about internalising and how we often find ourselves being propelled into dilemmas and circumstances by the thoughts and perspectives that once guided us.
“In the play, Sanket is deeply inspired by Karna from the Mahabharata and freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Yet there comes a time in his life when he questions his perception of his heroes. The narrative follows him as he travels from his hometown to a city to pursue education and eventually his career,” says Vivek, adding, “Interspersed in it is a curiosity about today’s youth that has intrigued me time and again. The piece empathically looks at the political inaction that we see among millennials. They seem to be very active in expressing their viewpoint on social media, but nothing really translates to action in real life. Meanwhile, the politics of data security and the threat it is posing in the virtual world is another central aspect that plays out in Adhura,”
Elaborating further, Suranjay says, “India’s middle-class and many dilemmas they face in fulfilling their dreams in life inspires the story of Adhura. Sanket’s job struggles and the ethical conundrums that he finds himself tangled in are partly inspired by true events.” Only 11 shows old now, the play is expected to be staged in Bengaluru again after the Covid situation eases a bit.
Cut to the theatre group’s other new projects, a 30-minute piece called The Quest — written and performed by Vivek — is ready. Then there is Areba-Pareba based on Uday Prakash’s short story of the same name.
Our Theatre also runs acting workshops, called Exploring Navarasas and Acting Solo, while its 2019 initiative — a performance-based intervention in public spaces called See-Saw — also garnered a lot of interest. During the lockdown, the collective released a series of recorded object theatre performances. Pyaade, the first devised performance in the series, had chess pieces as its characters, while Do Machaliyan featured a fish tank.
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