Zanjeer by Ada Dramatics—A Review

Zanjeer, a short Hindi-language production was written and performed by Ada Dramatics and was released on their Instagram page on the 12th of November. Of course, owing to the pandemic, productions have moved online. Ada Dramatics, however, maintained its standard and captured an audience of over 2700 people. The feedback and reactions to the play were very positive, showering the Instagram handle of the club with support and love.   

Inspired by ‘Ties that Bind’ by Eric Cole, a play that focused on societal problems such as gender bias and abuse, Zanjeer aims to talk about the problems of today’s society. ‘Zanjeer’—Urdu for shackles—refers to the constant scrutiny of society that keeps its members bound to itself. The Ada production remains rather true to its source—in both name and spirit.

The play introduced by a playful warning and disclaimer sets the tone and keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats. The production is introduced as a horror, keeping the audience intrigued while maintaining ominous suspense. It is only towards the latter half of the production when the true intent of the writers is unveiled—to talk of the horrors of everyday society.

The pandemic has given rise to a completely new style of production—it has changed scripts, sets, sound design, and direction! It has also created a bridge from the world of plays, productions, and stages to the world of cinematography. ‘Editing a play’ is perhaps a new requirement in thespianism. The acoustics, expressions and screenplay are now vital at every moment in a performance. 

Written by Aayush Jha, Aditya Raj Srivastava (Aayush and Aditya have also helped direct the play) and Vishesh Tayal, ‘Zanjeer’ truly highlights the terrors of society—the evil that hides behind every snarky comment, every suggestion in the game of Chinese whispers played by society. The production brings to light the situation of one such individual, Manav played brilliantly by Aman Goyal. Manav, a man seen as a failure, endures constant ridicule from people around him. They talk about his incapabilities, family and work-life and jeer at his downfalls at every opportunity. The script follows his life and how he deals with societal pressure.

The directors, Aayush Jha and Aditya Raj Srivastava assisted by Vidhushi Tandon and Shouryha Bharadwaj make the most of the situation, trying to emphasise the character of Manav by creating a visual contrast between him and the shadow characters that represent society. Manav’s attire—all-white against the stark black backdrop—is a powerful sartorial choice. His reactions to society’s onslaught are mimed, another poignant device to show man’s helplessness in front of his own.

Dhawal Dixit’s opening monologue sets the tone perfectly for what is to come next. The supporting characters, played by Ravi Shankar Rai, Poorvi Mittal, Rudrakshi, Shresth Singh, Aaryaman Awasthi, and Shivani Mate provide the central conflict to Manav’s story. Dressed in black, the shadow-like effect created for the side characters along with the blindfolds brings out the true nature of our society—making blind assumptions and comments, without even trying to understand the way they may affect someone.

The graphics and editing of the whole piece showcase an understanding of the way the audience is going to look at the screen. The plain black background along with the play of lights and shadows create a visual balance on screen. Only the main character receives a spotlight, while the others blend into the background. In a part of the script, Manav is shown struggling with the circumstances he finds himself in. The difference between his normal reactions to the commentary and this struggle is also brought to light through the editing of his character’s sequences. The video was edited by Shreyans Jain while Ansuman Nayak and Gayathri worked on the graphics.

The music that follows the script is eerie and mild in nature, fitting the script perfectly. It was worked on by Sourdeep Mitra and Bhavyam Sinha. There are also parts of Manav’s life explained through verses of a song sung by Bhumika Kiran. Both add character to the production and depth to the story; bringing out the emotions and feelings of the mime, further bringing importance to his character. 

The ten-minute production is an engulfing experience showcasing the enthusiasm of the club while also bringing to relief a fear of societal scrutiny in its viewers.

Written by Vasundhara Rathi for MTTN

Edited by Avaneesh Jai Damaraju for MTTN

Featured Image credits: Ada Dramatics

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