“An amalgamation of the past and the present” would be the ideal way to describe the Hindi play “Sir, Sir Sarla! directed by a maverick called Makrand Deshpande, and performed at the Prithvi Theatre Juhu on the 24th December 2016. This twisted play about love and relationships which was first performed by ANSH Theatre Group on 11th November 2001 has been successful for 15 longs years with majority of its shows being “houseful”. The cast in 2001 initially included the the talented and beautiful Sonali Kulkarni as Sarla, and director Anurag Kashyap as Fanidhar in key roles then and which has now undergone changes.
THE PLOT OF THE PLAY
This two act play essentially revolves around philosophical interactions between a professor of poetry called Palekar (Makrand Deshpande) and two students Sarla (Aahana Kumra) and Fanidhar (Sanjay Dadhich).It is an extremely intriguing play in the sense that it oscillates back and forth between the present and past. It then dwells into issues each of the two lead character i.e. Sarla and Fanidhar have with each other as well with Professor Palekar himself using “memory and reality” as a tool. The introduction of a character (late in the second act) called Keshav (Romi Jaspal) a former student of the professor who is married to Sarla adds a really good twist to this intriguing tale.
Furthermore, it also deals with the concept of “Love” and how this emotion is so complicated that it is in fact difficult to totally comprehend. In addition, the fact that in life there are two ways of thinking i.e. “pessimism” and “optimism” has also been dealt with extremely brilliantly by writer-director Deshpande.
THE CHARACTERS OF THE PLAY
Apart from an intriguing plot that is filled with “philosophies of life” this play also possesses a few interesting characters. They are as follows
“Young and vivacious” is the best way to describe Sarla as the character. She also is an extremely strong woman full of energy and possesses lots of love and respect for her professor. In addition, she also falls prey to living in the past rather than living in the present and planning for the future. As the energetic and spunky Sarla, Aahana Kumra gives a sterling performance that combines great emoting and mesmerizing on stage presence, a rare combination especially in a female artist.
“An embittered young man” is the essence of Fanidhar as a character. The bitterness stems from the fact that he was in love with Sarla and yet could not express it. It is this repressed love that makes him so bitter that he lays the blame on the professor for convincing Sarla to marry Keshav thereby, ignoring the fact life is all about living in the present rather than dwelling in the past. As the extremely bitter and sarcastic Fanidhar Sanjay Dadhich is intense and truly brings to life the inner turmoil of a man unfortunately caught in his past and unwilling to look to the future.
“A frustrated and indecisive husband” is what the character Keshav essentially represents. His indecisiveness stems from the fact that he is unable to handle Sarla’s continuing yearning for her best friend Fanidhar and her love for her professor. It is this inability to take control of his marital life that then leads to frustration. As the frustrated and unsure Keshav, Romi Jaspal plays the role with great finesse and also exhibits a great sense of comic timing an essential quality required to play this role.
d. Professor Palekar:
“An enigmatic character” is what professor Palekar can best be described as. His enigma lies in the fact that, it was he who encouraged Sarla (for no obvious reason) to marry Keshav although she is not really interested him. And yet again his enigmatic quality shows up during the climax when he once again manages to convince Sarla to reconcile with Keshav although she intends to divorce him. As professor Palekar, Makarand Despande is brilliant and brings to light the “enigmatic” quality in an extremely effortless manner.
THE CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP, “THE DIRECTOR”, SET DESIGN, AND MUSIC
The excellent performances in this play is certainly due to the manner in which Makarand Deshpande has managed to guide his performers. The fact that Deshpande himself written this play must is the major reason why he was able to extract outstanding performances from his actors. Furthermore, when one considers that Deshpande also needs to manage his own performance along with guiding his cast it would be fair to say then that he does do an incredible balancing act between directing, and acting on stage which only a talented few can achieve.
On the other hand the simplistic set design adds to the whole atmosphere of the drama that was demanded by the plot while, the soft music adds brilliantly to the overall mood of the play. All in all its a great play although it must be said that since the plot itself is so unique it will not be digested by everyone especially those whose intention is just to be entertained for a few hours.
Overall, with great performances, witty dialogues, and great direction it would be safe to say that this play “Sir, Sir Sarla!” directed by Makarand Deshpande possesses an highly intriguing plot that is definite worth a watch.
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