Play-By-Play: Aaina’s Spotlight

Theatre is an innovative expression of life. It is a thing of beauty, to project stories onto ourselves and others; a way of creating meaning through narrative and metaphor. On Sunday evening, the MIT Library auditorium witnessed innumerable emotions. A number of gasps, a whole lot of laughter, and plenty of “awes” as Manipal’s very own Aaina Dramatics presented their event Spotlight; eight plays presented exclusively by the first years.

“The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.” The first play of the evening was titled Coming Out directed by Shiven and Aarat. Tagged as a comedy, the next ten minutes took the audience to a parallel universe, where being gay is socially acceptable and being straight, a taboo. It revolved around an anxious son admitting to being straight to his gay fathers. The chemistry between the couple was instantaneous and the witty one liners made the crowd laugh at frequent intervals.

We live in a country, where women are still conditioned to believe that their one true purpose is to be someone’s wife. The second play Reedh Ki Haddi was about a courageous daughter taking a stand for herself, by questioning her parents’ decision regarding her marriage to an ignorant boy, who only wants an uneducated bride. Rakshit and Pratik did an exceptional job at directing the play, and the emotions were portrayed outstandingly by the actors.

The third play of the evening, This or That directed by Monisha and Ishaan, promptly caught the attention of the audience by acting out different stages of a relationship—the left and the right, the right and the wrong. Although, the audience felt a little lost at the beginning, the actors did a great job in encapsulating a young couple’s thought process behind every disagreement. In between the plays, the hosts entertained the audience with various antics and built a sense of suspense which kept everyone at the edge of their seats.

Parallel Lines, directed by Aditya Samadhia and Piyusha Rathi was the fourth for the evening. The play was melodramatic and an emotional Hindi family drama, that involved misunderstandings enkindled by a jealous daughter-in-law. The actors’ efforts were seen, as all their lines were well-delivered.

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of an indecision.” What followed was another Hindi play Asmanjas, revolving around a forty year old shopkeeper and a 16 year old boy, who have contrasting opinions on a new political party. The highlight of the play was the deafening slap—something the audience thought they’d never have to witness. The directors did a brilliant job in making sure every tiny detail was paid attention to, and was a success.

After two intense dramas, 3AM Wakeup Call was a breath of fresh air. My personal favorite, and also the best of the evening, it focused on two friends with contrasting personalities, and how they hilariously tackle the murder of an “expensive evening friend” or a “night time entrepreneur” (Read: Prostitute). Both the actors were worth noting owing to their impeccable comedic timing. The directors Abhinav and Karunakaran put together an amazing play, with a cohesiveness that was both impressive and unmatched.

The next play was Khudkhushi by the established writer Saadat Hasan Manto. Directed by Varun Kapoor and Malavika Nair, this intense drama centred on a young woman and her thoughts after losing the love of her life. She was fixated on the idea of taking her life and also asked her eloquent uncle to write her suicide note until another woman gives her a different perspective to the entire situation; on how love stories are not perfect.  The last play, Blind Date directed by Aashna and Raviteja, was a romantic play that captured the audience’s attention with the cheesy yet chuckle-some dialogues.

The stellar performances and the speedy change in props and settings for the various plays made up for the delay in the event. Despite a few untimely errors in the sound, the lighting was uniform and the costumes resonated with the theme of each and every play. Definitely an evening to remember.

– Janice Coutinho, for MTTN

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