Fan'ning O'er It: Parey
Posted on 28 September, 2016 by Team Wishberry
Rangbaaz Group’s Parey
Writer and Director: Raghav Dutt
Gagan Dev Riar as Niladri
Bhushan Vikas as Vasu
Mallika Singh as Ira
Parey is the story of a writer, Niladri, who believes writing needs soul, but fails to bare of his. It is also the story of Vasu, an actor, who is pursuing Niladri to rediscover his soul. Vasu attains his goal, Niladri writes a magnificent play; but it comes at a price, one that pretty much changes their lives.
Niladri and Vasu are roommates. Both annoy each other, yet love each other to bits. Both opposing personalities - Niladri, a sad, depressive writer who has lost hope, and Vasu, a highly excited, passionate actor. Their verbal tennis is extremely amusing to watch, to say the least. Vasu is behind Niladri to get back to his own beautiful writing as opposed to his current job as a columnist at a boring publication. He is also trying to convince the writer to confess his love for Ira, their mutual friend and an actor herself.
Niladri is convinced about the play, but keeps denying his love for Ira. All hell breaks loose when Niladri accuses Vasu of manipulating Ira against him. Vasu retaliates asking Niladri to get over his own sad self. Standing face to face with reality, Niladri loses it and what happens next forms the crux of the play.
The first act is funny and intense all the same. But, it doesn’t prepare you for the emotion-driven second act. The second act concentrates more on the play written by Niladri, showing us snippets of it. After a humourous first act, this might come off as a smudge of disappointment. But, the play follows it up on an emotional high and ends on a philosophical note, which feels great in afterthought.
The last scene was one of my favourites. Niladri stands in the foreground singing while Vasu stands in the background grooving to the music. The spotlight is on Niladri, and Vasu is only faintly visible. Both achieving nirvana in their own ways - the effect is poetic. Such is the effective employment of lighting throughout the play. It takes the whole experience a notch higher. Easily, some of the best lighting work I have seen.
Same goes for the set design. The set was designed to conveniently be utilised in various ways. The ropes hanging from either side hook together when the life of Jumma, the protagonist of Niladri’s play, comes together. The same ropes are unhooked and thrown apart when Jumma’s life becomes distorted again. The use of the rope to signify that is pure genius.
But, beyond all the subsidiary elements, the primary element of performance is well taken care of. Gagan Dev Riar portrays an enigmatic, hateable-loveable Niladri, with marvellous ease. He truly shows his versatility with the shift in the character from the sarcastic, soulless man to the emotional writer dealing with a loss. Bhushan Vikas remains at par with Riar with his excitable, passionate Vasu who believes in optimism and exploring life. Mallika Singh dutifully presents Ira who is fun, happy, yet very sensitive to Niladri’s spurts of anger.
All these characteristics coming together and creating a beautiful mess is closely supported by the music, which holds together the theme of the play from beginning to end. Comparing Vitthal, the God of the masses with soulful writing, devotional songs of yesteryear are used incredibly well for two purposes - one, the comparison between soulful writing and God, and two, it also fit well with the grandfather’s character, Tuka baba (resemblance to Saint Tukaram) who was popular for singing songs and telling stories, in the play inside the play. Especially, Mani naahi bhaav, mhane deva mala paav, which basically means ‘you cannot expect God to bless you without devotion in your heart’, amongst the others.
Raghav Dutt has put together an ensemble worthy of the story, and has executed his own writing really well. The fact that this is only his second play comes as a surprise, given that it’s executed so well.
Rangbaaz Group’s Parey is definitely worth a watch for the story, the execution, but most of all for the performance and the supreme use of supporting elements.