Pagla Ghoda – the play

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Pagla Ghoda – the play

Pagla Ghoda – the play

So I could finally watch Pagla Ghoda – a classic play written by late Badal Circar, one of the most influential theatre personalities of India – yesterday at Ravindra Bharthi auditorium, Hyderabad. I was always curious about this play originally written in Bengali way back in 1967. So there was no question to miss the opportunity!

To touch a classic is always a huge challenge for everyone. For the director and the actors, it is like, are we able to justify the stature of the play? Will we be able to pull it off successfully? Along with them, the audiences are challenged too. They are like, will I be able to enjoy such a celebrated piece of art? Am I equipped enough to appreciate it?

I could perceive the whole experience of Pagla Ghoda at two levels. On one, being associated with a throbbing theater circuit of Mumbai, I find it absolutely amazing – and even heartbreaking – when I see the amount of hard work and efforts the theater people of Hyderabad put in to come up with a play. As I have mentioned even earlier, most of the actors and even directors here are full-time professionals working in IT, finance, pharmaceutical and other sectors. They stretch their selves to peruse their passion for theater; they make a lot of adjustments, rehearse for months on end even while being fully aware of the fact that the life span of their play would not go beyond 2 to 5 shows! The number of shows of a play in Hyderabad circuit generally does not touch a double digit.

I also feel that, the theater people of Hyderabad are probably purer than their Mumbai counterparts in spirit. Hyderabadi artists are not contaminated by the secret desire of being ‘seen’ by Bollywood people and eventually make it to the movies, or to be picked up TV serial makers and make substantial money. Forget film or TV people, the theater-going general public are severely limited in Hyderabad. Forget earning, the artists rather spend from their own pockets. They are probably not even considering the fame aspect, I guess. All they are happy with is the intoxicating process of rehearsals and creating a play. Kudos, therefore, to Saurabh Gharipurikar – the director of Pagla Ghoda and his actors to come up with a beautiful version of such a difficult play.

That’s one. On second level, what if I remove this entire context and watch the play for what it is? Did it work for me? The answer is not absolutely but largely Yes. Pagla Ghoda is not an average “entertainer”, so to speak. Quite obviously, it is never designed to provide the audiences some “good fun” or “laughs”. On the visual level, the entire play takes place in a samshaan where four men are playing cards and drinking alcohol. Gradually – and reluctantly – they share their failed love stories even as a ghost of a dead woman (or women) keeps on interacting with them.

Pagla Ghoda is a metaphor for an untamed life. Rather than patriarchy culture and its impact on women and men, I feel, the play rather explores certain existential crisis of seemingly ordinary characters. No matter how mundane or colourless one’s life may appear, he or she still has an intimate story to tell! And as a character named Kartik Babu keeps on repeating all along, if there is a life, not all is lost, there is still a hope!

The play – ably trans-created in Hindi by Dr. Pratibha Agarwal – becomes fully alive in the second half. Set design (also by Saurabh Gharipurikar) is rather impressive. The performances of all the actors (Jonas David, Akshay Kokala, Vishal Saxena, Jay Jha and Shailaja Chaturvedi) were consistently good. Jonas David, as expected, leaves the biggest impression.

Pagla Ghoda is not for instant gratification. Is the play heavy? Oh yes. It is a type of a play which kind of plants a seed and then in grows within you slowly. So if you are up for such a slow-burning, emotionally stimulating play, go for it!

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– Shishir Ramavat

( Note – This Article is Originaly Written in Year 2018 )


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