Carefully hidden within our minds is a box: a box of uncharted thoughts, broken dreams and crushed hopes that we seldom touch. However, it doesn’t take much to crack open this box, revealing those prolific moments which lead us to disillusionment. It is quintessentially this box which makes us human. It makes us different and more powerful than any other being on this planet. In spite of abhorring this connection to our past self, we hold it close to ourselves, as this is what makes us who we are, or at any rate has a big role to play in what we try to be.
Aaina’s Main Production explored this human behavior to a large extent. It lived up to its reputation of making the MP longer than expected, creating an atmosphere of restlessness with unnecessary banter. The first play, Raktpushp adapted from a play of the same name by Mahesh Elkunchwar, traced the journey of two women- exploring their emotional vastness- a mother who had lost her son, and saw her son’s presence in a boy who stayed as a house guest and a daughter who was in her late teens, rebellious, overtly cautious, short-tempered and easily annoyed by the boy her mother preferred more than her.
As the plot progresses we are introduced to the inner workings of a woman’s mind. We see how the lead Padma, beautifully portrayed by Surbhi, is deterred by her husband’s presence, her daughter’s constant rebellion and finds solace in Raja, the boy who reminds her of her long lost son Shashi. Shreya, the incessantly rebellious daughter was truly brought alive by Khushi as she switched between the teenager longing for love and the horrified daughter who couldn’t bear her mother’s ignorance. Sehaj as Bapa played the neutral character who mediates both overexcited parties, and manages to keep his stand for the most of it. Shashank, after his stance as Devdutt in Hayavadan, gives another outstanding performance as the intimidated, apprehensive teenage boy from the village who is a fish out of water in a city. He explores the slow transition from hate to attraction towards Padma’s daughter, and understands Padma’s constant emotional battle. While Padma cannot let her daughter indulge in a relationship with Raja, she can neither let go of him, and meanwhile she is constantly fighting the pangs of missing her dead son, and is unable to forget what it was like in a much simpler world. She questions her youth, beauty, sexuality and loses herself amidst the depth of her own sorrows.
Seewant Kushal seems to have been quite successful with his direction; the bonds between them were beautifully portrayed, and magically brought alive. Save for a few drags, the play achieved what it intended to.
Aaina’s second play for the evening, Death and the Maiden, fell short of appreciation. The play stretched far beyond the audience’s comprehensive limit. Given the theme of the play, it could’ve done wonders if only parts of it could be entirely edited, and if the lead made a conscious effort of changing the accusatory tone which ended up being monotonous to the point of irritability. That being said, Avani as Maya was a strong character. She was fixed about her ideals and confidence emanated from her as she played the woman who had been tormented, raped and tortured but stood her ground firmly to avenge her wrong-doers.
It seems long ago that she was kidnapped by a bunch of men who molested her time and again, while a doctor played Schubert in the background and examined her. When the same doctor happened to visit their home as her husband’s guest, his skin, smell and the cassette of Schubert threw her into an overdrive of tumultuous emotions. She was determined to make him confess to the crimes he’d committed, and would settle for nothing less than murdering him. Shivank, as Maya’s calm husband, led the climax, and impressively so. Devansh Malik as the doctor was a powerful character, powerless in Maya’s mercy, awaiting his destiny. Parita Thakur and Roshan Dutta tried for the most part to make the play worth the intense emotions explored, yet what majorly distorted the idea was the fact that Maya’s dialogues stretched on for too long. The spectators couldn’t wait to know what happened at the end, and they weren’t willing to indulge too soon. However, the effort they put in was evident, and the team deserves appreciation for that.
Given that they prepared for a bare minimum of two weeks, their performance was undoubtedly brilliant. Save a few errors here and there they managed it for the most part. Nevertheless, Aaina could’ve been much better with its MP, be it the acting front, plot, or general publicity. As usual, there were a few intense dialogues which moved the audience and left us with introspection and a whole lot of questions about who we really are, why we do what we do, and moved that small box of emotions we leave untouched. The spectators couldn’t wait to find the answers
Raktpushp, exploring a woman’s emotional universe, left the audience awestruck with the brilliant acting and intense portrayal of emotions. Death and the Maiden had ample scope for improvement, and got stretched unnecessarily. The actors saved the day in the end, and dialogues, though powerful, ended up being longer than expected.