Hriday Manch 2016: A series for the masses

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New Delhi, Aug 29 (IANS) The plays performed during the fifth edition of Hriday Manch 2016 contained comedy and drama suitable for the masses and failed to impress those looking for sense and intellect. There was much use of slapstick to convey hypocrisy in the society.

Created to address societal issues, the plays were watchable but lacked a certain theatrical and intellectual sensibility to impress across the spectrum. At times, there was much laughing and whistling — which would not be acceptable to many.

The first play, presented by Sparsh Natya Rang and titled “Radhe Radhe Hum Sab Aadhe”, tried convey that it is not only the mentally challenged, but all of us are somehow incomplete.

A young boy, Radhe, after a head injury, starts to believe that he belongs to the opposite sex. Every dialogue and action of his was meant to generate slapstick humour.

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The unnecessarily loud actors bored at parts. The play ran like the work of an amateur playwright who himself needs to look beyond the stereotypes to be able to educate the audiences.

The behavioural portrayal of the opposite sex raised multiple questions and that is where the direction and writing of the play fail to impress. The woman that Radhe thinks of himself to be is the stereotypical woman who likes to cook, gossip and dreams of getting married as soon as possible. Once Radhe is cured, there is a nasty manner in which he approaches women who keep running away from him due to the fear of getting raped.

What stood out of the series was “Bholeram Ka Jeev” by Yuva Natya Manch. Written by the late Harishankar Parsai, the play addressed the major issue of bribery in the country. From railway reservations to school and college admissions and also in the matter of receiving pensions, bribery is the last resort for every problem.

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There were moments of humour and satire that keep the audiences entertained. The thematic development of the plot was good.

The protagonist Bholaram dies but does not reach heaven as his life is stuck in the pension files. The story is beautifully presented with great comic moments and a little emotional drama that goes with the struggles the protagonist had to go through in the last stage of his life.

The concluding play, “Canada De Nazare” by The Theatre Persons, Amritsar, talked about the big dreams of young Punjabis to settle in abroad. How an uneducated person in an illegal way tries to settle in Canada leads to very comic and dramatic situations.

The play delineated obnoxious double standards of the patriarchal society. Through this hilarious Punjabi comedy, playwright Pali Bhupinder Singh and director Anita Devgan attempted to illustrate huge sexism and the conspicuous subjection of women who readily agree to this.

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