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Relatively speaking

Mohan Maharishi is not only a seasoned actor and director but a playwright interested in new themes


My ambition is to bring new themes into dramatic literature Mohan Maharishi



FATHER OF 'EINSTEIN': Theatreperson Mohan Maharishi Photo: SANDEEP SAXENA

`The present day theatre scene is far from satisfactory. Actually, there is no professional theatre. It is only good and bad amateur theatre, though the National School of Drama repertory is trying to maintain some standard, and that seems the only place where some professional work is possible. Actors are hungry for some good work. I got tremendous love and cooperation from the team.' So says veteran actor-director, and now even playwright, Mohan Maharishi whose acclaimed "Einstein" opens in the Capital again this week.

One of the earliest, bright products of the National School of Drama with an unerring Ebrahim Alkazi stamp visible in every department of work, Maharishi has done much to elevate theatre in India. In an over three-decade span as a director, teacher, actor, designer, he did several important productions, pioneering amongst them being Dharamvir Bharti's much-acclaimed Hindi play "Andhayug" with a foreign cast, a feat that was emulated with a Punjabi play, "Rani Jindan" in the U.S. and Canada.

After a short stint as Director with his alma mater in 1984 - from where he resigned because of differences with the management - he went back to the Department of Drama, Punjab University, Chandigarh, where he had been teaching since his return from Mauritius in 1979. He must have reluctantly relinquished charge in late 2004 after attaining the age of retirement.A long tenure resplendent with controversies, brickbats, and accolades. The highpoint of which was certainly the writing of "Einstein".

Interdisciplinary theatre

"My mission or ambition is to bring themes into dramatic literature that haven't been touched before. I believe in interdisciplinary theatre. I think new, powerful theatre could be created by including themes that lie outside the gamut of theatre. Right now I am working on two plays, a sequel to `Einstein' called `Einstein 2', which takes the story forward from where the first one ends, i.e. 1905; and another that concerns itself with DNA structure (double helix). I enjoy this mixing tremendously. It opens up new vistas of infotainment and excitement. I believe we need to experiment more thematically rather than with form and structure. That is good enough as a classroom exercise."

The play was first staged in Delhi, under the aegis of the National School of Drama Repertory Company, on 25 November 1994 with a string of 25 performances. And has since then generated considerable debate in both literary and theatrical circles. So if "Einstein 1" - if one may call it so - which, according to Maharishi, "tries to tell the story in a somewhat linear manner," comes afresh with a lot of curiosity, it shouldn't real surprise many.

"It shows the wonder scientist in three polarised images," explains the seasoned playwright-director. "But it also, simultaneously, seeks to destroy that very linearity through mutual tension and interaction between the three split images. Three triangularly arranged mirrors that relentlessly reflect and re-reflect the varied dimensions, in effect, add both contradictory and complementary images of the persona in the mind of the audience. It first seeks to establish the broad cosmological framework, and sort of enlist radical changes of far reaching import brought about by Newton and Einstein. The second part largely focuses on the man and his work. It also tries to chart out the complex and often painful, yet emotional and passionate search for an order in chaos, and vice-versa."

SURESH KOHLI

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