: Jaimini Pathak, Romi Jaspal, Vishal Agarwal
Director: Jaimini Pathak
Written by: Ramu Ramnathan
It's very tempting to start this review with a dreary monologue on how the theater scene in Hyderabad sucks. But with a play like Curfew to talk about, it would be sheer wastage of space and time. I fervently hope most of the theater circle in the city saw this play, 'cos Curfew goes a long way in underlining the sheer creative license one is given in theater, and what wonders can be created with that license.
Jaimini Pathak, the director and one of the actors onstage, is a name to reckon with in the Bombay theater circuit. And that is as good as theater gets in India. Bangalore is close behind, but Mumbai is still king of theater. Taking up Ramnathan's play Curfew, which relies heavily on the director's talent to translate the sheer lunacy onstage, Jaimini Pathak does an amazing job indeed.
There is no script or plot as such. And NO, that does not mean that this resembles any of those Tollywood movies. Curfew is a pretty good example of experimental theater. There are only three actors but a host of characters, with the actors playing roles as diverse as a mythical, singing peepal tree, a Parsi mom, Yama (the God of Death), and even a towel-wrapped housewife.
Vishal Agarwal, with a guitar in hand, takes root at the beginning of the play and stays put, very tree-like, for the rest of it. He however belts out songs every now and then with whacky lyrics, and goes "ouch", "oucher" and "ouchest" when leaves of knowledge are plucked from him.
Jaimini Pathak and Romi Jaspal play the mobile characters, and boy, are they mobile. Taking a look at the implications regular curfews have on normal lives, they cut loose in a very admirable manner, albeit a wee bit exaggerated. The timing is perfect, and the incredible limits these people are ready to go to are heartening.
Jaimini's rendition of a Parsi mother especially had everyone in splits, especially the two suspicious bumps in front, which acted with a mind of their own. Every now and then there would be songs and then another twist in the story, with enaction of some scenes we all recognize very well, but never saw in this light.
Social commentaries always are prone to falling into a dreary rut, and that is precisely what Curfew manages to avoid. Far from being perfect, the script houses certain inadequacies, and there are several pun-y lines that are far from funny. But this was wine and meat after the mouldy bread and stale water our local theater groups have been feeding us. After so many years, the only production Hyderabad can boast about is Adrak Ke Panje. And when was that made?