That standing ovation, those loud claps, and happy faces in the theatre by audiences, waiting for the artists to come out after the play, spoke volumes. I was also standing right there, just to convey how happy I was to see this timeless drama, but left abruptly and quietly because that happiness in me needed isolation to reason myself. I was in a different zone.
It was all about Professor Palekar (Makrand Deshpande) who has written and directed the drama and played the role of the Professor. While Sarla (Aahana Kumra) is passionately in love with the professor and she crazily reminds him about her inclination, there is another student called Phanidhar (Ninad Limaye) who is the second-best who shares a love-hate relationship with the Professor and is madly in love with Sarla. The lives of the three are consequently mingled. Throughout the play, we see each of the characters deal with their individual conflict, subduing it and then letting it out sometimes calmly, and sometimes intensely.
Even though the Professor let down internal conflict himself, he is always a role model of wisdom for his two favourite students. However, if the play were just that, it would be quite simple and straightforward. The interest lies in Phanidhar questioning his teacher, again and again, even accusing him of ruining all their lives by manipulations, and as a teacher, he gives monotonous explanations. The play would have been long-winded had it not been for Phanidhar, who is very endearing with his utter lack of grace and simple character. Phanidhar stole the entire show; he takes out emotions on a roller-coaster ride, inquisitive, hilarious, and bringing one down quite suddenly from idealistic theories to a reality where jealousies and self-interests lie.
The situation becomes interesting midway when Sarla’s insecure husband, Keshav, enters. Keshav (Mr Mane) is a businessman with little understanding of Sarla’s romantic view of life, even though he tries. Keshav brings a new layer of depth and wholesomeness to the play with his unpretentious simplicity and honest demeanour. As he rendered his performance with honesty to his character’s personality, was actually the showstopper of the play. His entry in the play tickles your ribs and at the same time calms your brains. As the story unfolds, unkind allegations are made; life-altering decisions are anticipated and then re-considered. With all its ‘grand’ ideals, the play also provides prurient satisfaction as the plot is about the love of a young girl for her elderly teacher and mentor.
Initially, the play was slow, maybe it was to create the premise but as the storyline progressed, every character got the audience involved in their personalities and performance. The guys were constantly in character and had distinct personalities. Every character is relatable and each one connects to them in some form of life experience.
The professor subtly conveys how life does not give as much grief as your perspective and how a simple shift in that line of thought changes the direction of your life. Knowing or unknowingly he nudges them towards the right path which comes to be questioned down the line. In spite of their inner turbulence and conflict, he is constantly aware of their nature and patiently nudges their entwined lives and leads them from confusion to clarity and then purpose.
Sarla is inspired by the intellect and her love for poetry is the reason for her to fall in love with her mentor. Ahana Kumra as Sarla flitted through various timelines easily with her performance of bubbly youthful candour to a married young lady. At some point, she was a little over the top and can level it out further.
Makarand Deshpande as an actor, director and writer knows his craft and generously gives space for all the artists to perform. He leaves that open canvas for them to improvise, there were many such prompt cute moments in the play. Makarand is a mentor all the way and as he evolved as an artist and mentoring people is second nature. Perhaps this performance of his was a perfect example of how sometimes you begin to play this role but eventually somewhere actually becomes the role.
It’s intriguing to see how much our thoughts encompass us and how the right mentoring shifts your perceptions. Love is perceived with a formula where you tick all the boxes, but the fundamental confusion lies between what you want and what you get and further what you can accept. So locked we are in our world and perceptions, that invisible or variant expressions don’t seem to register on the horse-blinkered psyche. Compelling people to express and finding that middle ground in the equations seems to be the ultimate need of life and ultimately determines success. Love does come with its complexities and inner conflicts.
Love is a universal language, and as the characters sift through their complex layers of expression, you can relate to each one of them in some way or the other. What I found fascinating about this play is how immensely relatable it was. You can connect to every character at some point or the other as somewhere we have either been one of them or frankly speaking, perhaps at different points of life even been all of them.
The play is brilliantly written and the dialogues are well-timed, it was wonderful to see them play with both minutes of silence with words. I would consider this play as a timeless creation that can be viewed in any language, performed by any artist, and still will always be applauded as a great example of theatrical art. Music, sound, lights, makeup, costumes, stage, everything was in order.
Must watch play.