Rajit Kapoor and Nasseruddin Shah in the play "A Walk in the Woods".

Rajit Kapoor and Nasseruddin Shah in the play “A Walk in the Woods”.

There are very few plays in Indian theatre that are based on the delicate issue of India-Pakistan diplomacy and one such rare play is an English play titled “A Walk in the Woods” which is produced by the Motley group headed by the great Nasseruddin Shah. This play has been adapted from Lee Blessing’s play of the same name by Randeep Hooda and Faisal Rashid and is directed by debutant director Ratna Pathak Shah also the wife of Nasseruddin Shah.

The original play which was written by Lee Blessing was based on a conversation between two arms negotiators one an American and the other Russian at a time when the cold war was at its peak. While in this play the writers Hooda and Faisal have quite cleverly replaced the original plot with the India-Pakistan diplomacy scenario. So the basic plot of this play which is simplistic begins with conversations between two diplomats one Indian called Ram Chinapa played by Rajit Kapoor and the other a Pakistani called Jamaluddin Lutfullah played by Nasseruddin Shah.  The conversation between the two diplomats takes place in Geneva Switzerland in an isolated forest. The agenda for this conversation is basically to discuss a peace proposal that would help promote an atmosphere of peace between the two countries. It is during this conversation that we get a sense of the political issues between India and Pakistan that have persisted for many years. What we also get to know is the cruel fact that though there have been several opportunities for the both countries to resolve their issues amicably unfortunately though the politicians from both the countries have never made use of those oppurtunities. What is also interesting in the play is that while the Pakistani diplomat played by Nasseruddin Shah is cynical by nature, the younger Indian diplomat played by Rajit Kapoor is more of an optimist thus giving the play different points of view without trying to dilute the basic soul of the play.

For a first time director Ratna Pathak Shah does a great job in not only conveying the plot of the play but also in extracting world class performances from both the two characters of the play. The costume designs by Ratna Pathak Shah and Sajid of Intouch Fashion is excellent and certainly brings out the differences between the personalities of the two characters in the play quite authentically. So while we see Shah dressed flamboyantly, the straightforward Kapoor has much more simplistic style of dressing thereby giving the characters a contrast they required. The stage design by Amrita Bagchi and Mihir Thaker is simplistic yet realistic in keeping with the theme of the play and is helped brilliantly by the light designs by Michael Nazareth which helps add life to the stage design. With the theme of the play and the conversation between the two characters being of greater importance the music by Atul Raninga is not of much use and hence is of no great significance to the play.

The performances by the two actors in the play are magnificent to say the least. With the great Shah as the older and cynical Pakistani diplomat he certainly manages to bring out sense of cynicism that his character required with great deal of realism and a lot of charisma like a true master of his art. Complementing Shah quite beautifully is Rajit Kapoor who has the unenviable task of acting alongside a true master of acting which he is does exceedingly well as the straight laced Indian diplomat.  What Kapoor also does really well is to portray a genuine earnestness and hope that his character required with a lot of charm and dignity. Adding to the performances of both actors is a great sense of humor provided quite brilliantly in the play by the writers.

Overall, this two act play originally written by Lee Blessing has been quite brilliantly adapted by Randeep Hooda and Habib Faisal Rashid in the context of the complex India-Pakistan diplomatic relations. With outstanding performances from both Shah and Kapoor and good direction by Ratna Phatak Shah this play is a definite must watch for all theatre lovers. Above all this play raises a pertinent question and, the question is are the politicians from both India and Pakistan ever going to genuinely work towards peace between the countries or will they be happy to continue with the farce carried out in the name of diplomacy for years now?

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There are very few plays in Indian theatre that are based on the delicate issue of India-Pakistan diplomacy and one such rare play is an English play titled “A Walk in the Woods” which is produced by the Motley group headed by the great Nasseruddin Shah. This play has...