Fan-ning O’er It: Sindhu Sudhakar Rum ani Itar

Posted on 11 August, 2016 by Team Wishberry

Writer - Ashutosh Potdar

Director - Alok Rajwade

Imagine a play that keeps going back and forth in time; a play which has a play inside it; a play which takes a classic play and analyses it through itself.

Natak Company’s Sindhu Sudhakar Rum ani Itar is all of that.

It opens with a sequence from Ekach Pyala, the classic Marathi play written by Ram Ganesh Gadkari in 1918, where the protagonist Sudhakar’s wife dies and he commits suicide right after. It then returns to present day, where two costume designers, Rama and Apple, are working with the tailors Indar and Rafiq to design costumes for a period film based on the Marathi classic. Raghu, Apple’s boyfriend, is also helping them. Rama believes in studying the entire socio-political and economic situation of the era and knowing the entire history of the characters to be able to design the perfect costumes. During her pursuit to know everything, everyone around, except Apple, gets caught in the play and its characters. The tailor Indar obsesses about Sudhakar, Rama is taken over by Sindhu, and so on. As they enact and decipher scenes from the play, they start becoming the characters. The whole vibe of the place gets dangerously intermingled with reality and fiction.

The play is an experience; a thought process more than entertainment.

Apart from travelling through time, Sindhu... also travels through philosophies. The ones presented in Ekach Pyala are dissected through conversation and debate. Sindhu… beautifully displays perception and how it can be formed. For example, Indar, played by Omkar Govardhan, had an alcoholic father during his childhood and for him, the play is about alcohol’s negatives and about banning it altogether. And for Apple, played by Neha Shitole, who is a modern feminist and the independent entrepreneur, Geeta, Taliram’s wife, was a forward thinking, courageous feminist of that time. This way, the play sheds light on how upbringing or personal opinions and thought processes make a difference in perception of certain things.

The play flows from what happened in Ekach Pyala to what could have happened post the death of Sindhu and Sudhakar, in a way that’s smooth and painfully beautiful.

The performances are flawless. Sayalee Phatak pulls off the disparity between Rama, who is a modern costume designer obsessed with her task, and Sindhu, who is a devoted wife to her alcoholic and abusive husband, with supreme ease. It’s the same with Omkar Govardhan’s shift between Sudhakar and Indar, the tailor. Nachiket Purnapatre does a brilliant job at managing the sober cyclist who lives with his cycle and poetic words, and the drunkard Taliram, who forms an association to fight for alcoholism and unknowingly ruins his own as well as Sudhakar’s life.

But through it all, what stuck with me the most was the seamless transition between past and present and past again. Just when the play starts getting haunting, you’re pulled back to reality. It’s borderline magical.

The play must have been a task to write. And an even bigger task to direct. But, writer Ashutosh Potdar has done a heroic job. And director Alok Rajwade has only made it better, proving once again why he is in the top league of the experimental theatre scene.

Even the set design makes use of the costume theme really well. There is a saree hung in the backdrop as a symbol of being Sindhu's saree. The sound is fresh, as they have taken songs from Ekach Pyala and given them a modern electronic/trance-like mix. One of the interesting things the play employs is the sound of the sewing machine. Whenever there is a transition from the present to the past or vice versa, you hear the sound of the sewing machine at work, to signify time travel. And this one tiny detail is something I find incredibly ingenious!

Sindhu Sudhakar Rum ani Itar is not only a play, but a completely neutral look at the classic Ekach Pyala. It is almost an analysis, but oh, what a beautiful analysis.

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