Fan-ning O’er It: Bhanvar at Thespo18
Posted on 16 December, 2016 by Team Wishberry
Theatron Entertainment’s Bhanvar
Written and directed by Shivraj Waichal and Virajas Kulkarni
For any play, especially solo performances, the opening of the play is of utmost importance. When a play opens with the protagonist dancing to North Indian, B grade, loud pop, the audience knows the play will be one hell of a ride going either way.
And that is how Bhanvar begins. Bhanvar Singh, the night watchman guarding a closed factory in an area only inhabited by sounds from afar, dances as his final shift is coming to an end. The day watchman does not turn up owing to his wife’s delivery and Bhanvar gets stuck for two whole days in five shifts. In between, his mother has lied to a girl about Bhanvar’s profession to get her married to Bhanvar and get more dowry from them. Bhanvar opposes it and while he argues that with his mother, his phone’s battery discharges completely deeming it useless. Thus ending Bhanvar’s only way to contact the outer world. Hapless, exhausted, sleep deprived and hungry, Bhanvar begins hallucinating and loses his sanity.
That plot of this play might sound really dark, but the way it has been presented makes it funnier than it sounds. Both the writers, Shivraj Waichal and Virajas Kulkarni, have figured out a tight script which keeps the attention of the audience intact. They have also gone on to direct their script really well.
The other characters have voice-overs and they are done tactfully. When Bhanvar speaks on the phone, the unclear voices are heard with the keywords being clear. Though, when he puts his phone on speaker, the voices are clear as day. It is such skilful use of techniques that makes the audience feel that it is sitting right there with Bhanvar Singh observing him.
Shivraj Waichal introduces himself as Bhanvar with a dance, and ends the play with a dance. During this, he makes the audience dance with their emotions making them laugh at the character’s rural innocence, his admittance of ‘hum to anpadh hain’; and then he makes them agonise at Bhanvar’s sleep deprived, hungry, frustrated state. The play gets really dark when Bhanvar begins to hallucinate and Waichal does incredibly well to convey the insanity and the ensuing course of action. The play got a long, standing ovation at the end and most of it was for Waichal’s portrayal of Bhanvar. My only negligible concern was the fact that on a couple of occasions Waichal could not hold on to the accent. The only reason it is a concern, however negligible, is because this boy has supreme potential and he did well to hold the accent well for the most part. So my expectations from him are really high and hence the observation of such nitty gritties.
The music was amazing. More so because it had a mix of everything - from B Grade, North Indian music to an amazing background score in sync with the emotion being conveyed, to some Bollywood masala when Bhanvar begins watching a movie on the phone and recites the dialogues. The lights were intense, in a positive way. The transition from day to night and vice versa was well executed. The light inside the hut-like property was utilised really really well. So was the lights for a surprise setup at the end (I will refrain myself from giving away the details because let’s keep this spoiler free, right?).
The set looks awfully simple in the beginning, and it is so. But, there are a couple of shocks and surprises they have thrown into the script which make use of detailed set design, and truly takes the audience aback because it has been there the whole bloody time. Such detailing in the set design, especially prompted by the script, is rarely seen and boy, did it feel good to have that.
If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind as to where theatre was headed, well, worry not. It is headed in an even better place. I know that for sure because Bhanvar, made by young thespians, is a bright torch showing you a beautiful future on a proscenium stage. Watch the play whenever you get a chance, it is a piece of art about simple yet dark realities in life.