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Old theme, new treatment

ROMESH CHANDER

"Goodbye Blue Sky", presented this week at New Delhi's Habitat Centre, is a beautiful play, a valediction to blue sky.



REACHING FOR THE SKY A scene from the play "Goodbye Blue Sky"

In the last 12 months or so there has been a marked step-forward activity in youth theatre on the Delhi stage. Two or three new groups have given us some meaningful plays on different subjects like wars, communal riots, international terrorism, corruption, law and order situation, etc. One of these new groups calls itself Atelier Theatre Society that this past week mounted "Goodbye Blue Sky". The group's handout tells us that "Atelier's prime objective is to explore the real characteristics of the character we are. Therefore the choice of subjects that the group takes up is primarily based on the options that we are blessed with and what we choose". As the lights came on the stage A&B (Kuljeet Singh and Ravi Shanker) are in the midst of a discussion about their share of some property. It is obviously about the division of India as if it was a private property. It was a deal to divide the country. The deal is agreed upon. The two shake hands and the two actors climb up their respective blocks on the stage as if they are now addressing a meeting. And from now on most of the lines are spoken in Hindi and each one contradicts what the other says; as for instance, when B says, "Sunehra bhavishya hamara intezaar kar raha hai... . dekhna yeh hai ki haath muzboot rahein" says A. "Khone ko ab kuch bhi nahin, pane ko tayar hai. Khokhle shabdon se jazbaati na hon, har kadam par dhokha hai... .. hamarey sath vishwasghat hua hai". B goes on to say "hum nahin chahte kisi ka khoon bahe" and A adds "Chahe iss ke liye khoon ki nadiyan hi paar kiyun na karni padein".

Not convinced

As the play moves on an old woman talking to her son Iqbal, says, "Kitni bar kaha hai tujhe, uske sath mat khela kar." "Par kyun maa?" asks A. "Kyunki woh hamare log nahin hain", says the mother. "Par woh to mera dost hai", replies the son. "Dost-vost main nahin janti par mujhe itna pata hai, woh apne nahi hain", answers the mother. "To phir apne kaun hain maa?" asks the son. "Apne apne hote hain, rishte dar". The son is not convinced and asks "Agar bhai-behen apne hote hain to chote kaka ne bade kaka ko kyun mara" and the mother answers, "jab baat mazhab kee aati hai, to ek bhagwan ko manne wale log ek ho jaate hai." "Par bhagwan to ek hi hota hai" says the son. "hota hai to hota rahe par dharma ek nahin hota" says the mother.

As we move towards the end we come across to what usually happens after the communal riots... . Peace committees, buying of leaders, big and small and those we want to destroy are declared terrorists and are killed. And if the media is a problem, buy it. And so the discussion goes on and plans are finalised between A and B with whom the play started. And so it goes on. Enters a mob shouting "band karo ye sab nautanki". "But what has happened" asks someone. One of the crowds pointing towards a Sikh shouts, "kisi iske jaise ne goli maari hai Pradhan Mantri ko" and the mob yells "khoon ka badla khoon se lenge". The crowd goes mad and as it disburses, Ravi, our protagonist, is left alone on the stage, looks around and says, "Have they come for me?" yes, they came for me. Whom do I speak to... and then turning to the audience says "you all are a different people.

A beautiful play, a valediction to blue sky, a metaphor of peace in which the situation is taken from the past and present which is real as well as imaginary. The writer, or rather the writers (the script is the result not only of Ravi Shanker and Kuljeet Singh but of the entire cast) have built their play both from the past and the present. But the play tells us much more than the history books and leaves the judgement to the audience. "Goodbye Blue Sky" is a must whenever it is on the boards again. It is the treatment of the theme more than anything else that makes it different from the plays usually seen on the Delhi stage.

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