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The same old spirit...

Sadhana Natya Kala Kendra recently mounted "Vardaan" and "Kalpana ke Khel" to packed audience. Read on with DIWAN SINGH BAJELI to know more about the plays and its author the late Lalit Mohan Thapalyal.


FOR LALIT Mohan Thapalyal theatre was not a profession but a mission. He took upon himself to popularise theatrical activities at Sahibabad in Ghaziabad. The first step he took to achieve his goal was the construction of a small auditorium in his own house and form a group called Sadhana Natya Kala Kendra, imparting training to children as well as to the adults in various aspects of the theatre, inculcating in them a love of the dramatic art. To express their gratitude to this dedicated artiste, who passed away recently, the theatre workers of this area presented at the Sadhana Natya Kala Kendra's auditorium two short plays by Thapalyal this past week to a capacity hall. Towards the end, the audience paid warm tributes to Thapalyal and resolved to continue the theatre movement initiated by him with vigour and dedication.

A playwright, actor, director and theatre critic, Thapalyal has enriched the Hindi theatre, and theatre journalism. His play "Chimtey Wale Baba", which was awarded by the Sahitya Kala Parishad, reflects the agonised search of world-weary men trapped in the mirage of materialism to attain spiritual salvation. The insight he imparts into the life of his characters disturbs the audience. He has also written a series of plays for children and loved to act in these plays.

One of the pioneers of the Garhwali stage, he has written four one-act plays - "Khadu Lapata", "Achharyun Ko Taal", "Ghar Jawain" and "Ekikaran" - in Garhwali which were frequently staged in Delhi and elsewhere. He makes humour as the vehicle to convey social malaise of the hill society.

Profound moment

The evening began with "Vardaan", which was enacted by Manish Pandey, as a solo performer. He captures the moment of spiritual awakening in the life of young Vivekananda while interacting with his Master Shri Ramakrishna. This interaction takes him from darkness to light and from despair to hope, making him the harbinger of cultural renaissance. This brief but deep and profound moment was effectively brought to the fore by Manish through his movements, facial expressions and controlled delivery of dialogue.

Directed by Amit Bhattacharya, "Kalpana Ke Khel", a one-act play, was the second offering of the Natya Kala Kendra. Thapalyal wrote this play in New York while he was posted there as a journalist. A realist down to the earth, it is based on his observation of the lives of Indians working in America. The playwright was reluctant to stage this play during his lifetime. It was staged only once by him. It is a complex exploration of the tangled man-woman relationship. At one level, it projects an agonised world of a neglected and lonely housewife far away from her country. At another level, it depicts the dilemma of Indian community abroad uprooted from their culture.

On the surface there is not much drama. But with the use of pauses, light effects, the performers gradually reveal inner lives of their characters. The action shifts back and forth between past and present. This device deepens the sense of heartbreak and disappointment of the female protagonist. The restrained theatricality invokes sad musing. Amit Bhattacharya as a busy and overworked husband and Deepak Sethi as a married professor passionately in love with his unmarried student act admirably. Pratima Bhattacharya as a lonely, neglected and bored wife living in an apartment in New York creates a touching portrait that moves the audience who empathise with her character.

Natya Kala Kala Kendra is planning to stage one of the plays of Thapalyal in Delhi and in some of the towns of Uttar Pradesh. The Garhwali version of his "Chimtey Wale Baba" will be staged in Delhi soon under the direction of Harish Semwal, a well-known theatre worker based in Delhi.

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