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Walking alone...

ANJANA RAJAN speaks to Bapi Bose, ready with a thought-provoking play.



A scene from "Akla Chalo Re".

SERIOUS, THOUGHT-provoking theatre struggles to keep afloat. Despite the power of theatre as a medium of expression capable of moulding public opinion, artistes rich in ideas but lacking in funds find it hard to stage their productions. Still, the theatre `bug' is such, those bitten by it are infused with a passion that refuses to give up. So it is that from time to time, amid the plethora of sex comedies, dinner theatre, the self-styled pure entertainment for the tired masses, comes a play that genuinely makes the audience sit up and think. "Akla Chalo Re", to be presented later this week by Circle Theatre Company under the direction of renowned theatre veteran Bapi Bose, promises to do just that.

The script by Utpal Dutt is about the events leading up to Partition and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. As seen from the synopsis provided by Circle of the play, which takes its name from Rabindranath Tagore's famous song that exhorts individuals to walk alone, head held high for the sake of principles even in the face of adversity, highlights the dubious role of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in abetting the conspiracy to kill the Mahatma.

Read before challenging

What does he expect to be the reaction to such an open accusation? "Those who do not agree with this version can provide another version, but there is no point in arguing without being armed with proper material. If anyone wants to challenge the facts in the play, they can read the books listed, from which the incidents have been taken," says Bose, referring to the list of 22 historical works - including "The Cambridge History of India", Durga Das' "India from Curzon to Nehru and After", Louis Fischer's "The Life of Mahatma Gandhi" and others - on which the play is said to be extensively drawn.

As for the cast, Bose describes them merely as all amateurs but serious actors. The acting style, he points out, is aimed at projecting a message. So don't expect Gandhi to be before you in flesh and blood, he warns. "Forget about realism. We are giving a kind of ambience."

All that and more is likely to be hotly debated once the play gets on the boards at the Shri Ram Centre auditorium this Wednesday from 6.30 p.m.

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