In the era of hatred, where Ram has become a tool to violence and political possession, Makarand Deshpande’s play “Ram” is an eye-opener. Their Play is about an Impotent and helpless law enforcement agency, violent self-declared custodians of Rama and a mad man who forces Ram to come out of the temple with his utmost madness called devotion.
These days ‘Jai Shree Ram’ is said by those unethical morons and hypocrites who lynch fellow humans for their lifestyle, eating habits, caste and religion. Gang Rapes inside a temple, and they proudly say “Jai Shree Ram”? (Will Ram approve this act (or) is this Rama Rajiyam is all about?) Those who bluff people by building Ram Temple at Ayodhya, keeping the issue and heat as it is to polarize Hindu. This insult to Ram by a particular sect is portrayed beautifully in this play. Words once used by pure Bhakts these days are used by Brainwashed Extremists & Gandhi Killers that look like “Devils preaching Sermons”.
The simple message is that “Do not turn off your brain. Faith can be reasonable and rational. Faith is not superstition. As a seeker, you will be looking for reasons for your faith, for the truth about spiritual matters, and for seeing your own evidence of a divine being. Be open-minded about the supernatural, without being gullible. One needs to see within to witness Ram, unless you don’t go crazy with yourself you won’t find him here and there” says writer-director Makarand Deshpande, whose new play Ram opened during the Prithvi Festival yesterday. Theatre was houseful, in spite of it being a working day.
Fearless and honest dialogues, very neat script, it makes you laugh, it tickles your ribs and also sends ripples, makes you sad looking at the irony that we are witnessing in the name of Ram, religion and cast. The drama is a power-packed emotional trip. There is a dialogue in this play “Once people used to humbly greet others saying “Jai Ram Ji ki, but now it scares us”. In many parts of the country, it is a common greeting to relatives and known in the form of sometimes ‘Ram-Ram’ or ‘Jai Siya Ram’ as well. The narrative of greeting has changed to sloganeering for violent attacks.
The play centres on a mad man (Makarand Deshpande) seeking shelter in a Ram temple only to be kicked out by Ram-bhakts because they think he doesn’t look the part of a devotee. It’s an obvious mention to self-proclaimed janitors of religion who frequently create chaos in the country. The mad man and so-called devotees clash prompting a police constable (Nagesh Bhosle) to intervene. The constable and the hobo strike up a conversation and what follows is a two-hour-long commentary on the country’s political, religious and social state of affairs.
What unfurls next is a series of events as the beggar is questioned by people from various walks of life about his claims. We can relate to various scenes in the play since it questions how we as a society have changed. From religious violence to mob lynching. Nagesh Bhosle was hilarious and outstanding on his part, in many scenes, he just stole the show. Nagesh’s versatile act keeps you glued.
The play also features Ajay Kamble, Ninad Limaye and Madhuri Gawli; they all were best in their roles, each actor in the play knew their craft well. The play is Written and Directed by Makarand Deshpande. He felt the need to write the play, mainly due to the “misconception” of Ram. “There have been instances where people who aren’t followers of Ram have been forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ but I didn’t want to make the play a case study,” he says.
“What charmed me most about the story was that Ram is more human than superhuman as a character. That’s something I wanted to bring out in the play. The simplicity of the character, and the fact that he was a son, a husband and a brother first and God after, is fascinating and this is my version of Ram,” says Makarand.
Markard is known for his roles in movies such as Swadesh, Makdee, and Mahesh Bhatt’s Sadak 2. He is one of the actors and directors who are hugely contributing to Indian theatre. He is an individual who can beautifully balance between films and theatre. “I don’t know why people fail to notice my work on a national level, never mind I will keep doing my best”, he said. His work demands national acclaim. But he is not the one who can be a doormat in political corridors.
“I don’t have to convince anybody of what I am capable of delivering, whereas films are a different ball game altogether. Theatre is always going to be my forte and I have a lot of freedom to express myself here, that’s why I write beyond the frame and that gives scope of improvisation for all my characters,” says Makarand.
In a discourse that seems to spring from a heartfelt need in Deshpande to make people examine received beliefs and check their own majoritarian impulses, the tramp advises the constable to write his own mythological epic. The same custodians of religion campaigner of a single version of the epics, one of which they approve, when there are in fact many. He goes on to demonstrate how the two great Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, can be married and, in the process, suggests that over time, the world has only gotten more violent and bigoted.
While watching the play and efforts of Makarand to seed that poise belief in people, a few lines of Ramcharitmanas stroke my mind “तुलसी मेरे राम को, रीझ भजो या खीज। भौम पड़ा जामे सभी, उल्टा सीधा बीज॥”. In this quadrant, Tulsidas says that when the seeds are sown in the ground, it is not seen whether the seeds are inverted or straight, but in time all the seeds germinate and all the seeds are inverted. He has done his job, it’s the viewers who have to decide how they want to see their Ram.