Saturday, August 05, 2017

Taj Mahal Ka Tender

Directed by:                         Abhinav Bhardwaj & Vrinda Dharmarha
Playwright:                          Ajay Shukla
Assistant Director:          Puneet Keshtwal
Production Managers:  Kaushik Ramesh Iyengar & Utkarsh Agarwal
Form:                                    Stage Play
Date:                                     8th April 2016
Type :                                    Semester Production


Guptaji:               Utkarsh Gupta
Sudhir:                 Pranjal Deep
Shah Jahaan:    Mohit Soni
Sharma:              Deepansh Bhargava
Bhaiyaji:             Arjun Mahendru
Neta 1:                  Shashwata Sinha
Neta 2:                 Pradyumn Awasthi
Sethi:                    Durjai Sethi
Darbari 1:          Mukundan Singh
Darbari 2:          Ayush Raj
Chapraasi:        Aakash Sharma

The Play

This play is a satirical comedy on the Indian bureaucratic system. It delves deep into the corrupted root causes of why & how development gets delayed. Instead of making the audience feel depressed about the harsh realities, by giving insights on the inside scene that happens in the offices, Ajay Shukla deftly tries to convey the same as a hilarious comedy which is bound to leave the audience with a thought.

The plot revolves around a modern-day Shah Jahaan and what all hindrances he'd have to face just to get the tender for Taj Mahal's construction get passed. He beckons Guptaji, an experienced civil engineer, to commence the construction of this memorial. Unaware of Guptaji's innate, inherent corrupt nature which is depicted with subdued subtlety as a result of the entire corrupt system affecting him, Shah Jahaan gives Guptaji the contract. 

The hindrances that follow become hilariously annoying with various politicians protesting to Guptaji occupying the land of villagers, some revolting to the cutting down of trees, some officials halting the passing of the tender for an absurd pollution check, but all having one ulterior motive of making money out of this.

During this entire process, the construction gets delayed by decades altogether, and the timeline of the central characters is shown across this time gap, surrounded by these humorous hindrances.

Memories of the play:

  • One of the main challenges for the diros was the depiction of the central characters and their evolution and changes throughout the entire timeline. For the same, after every scene, a dedicated production team was involved in make up involving hair coloring, facial lines, changing of props, being as smooth and quick as possible, as there was hardly any time between the scenes.
  • A lot of experimentation was done with Shah Jahaan's character, making a lot of changes and finally settling for a modern-day, neo Shah Jahaan, rather than the classic image of a Mughal ruler people have in mind, to give a fresh, tacky tinge to the play.


Guptaji showing Shah Jahaan the blue print of Taj Mahal.

Shah Jahaan unleashing his rage on Darbaari 1.

Neta 1 threatening Guptaji to halt the construction.

Neta 2 asking for his cut.

The jovial Sharmaji from the pollution control department.

Shah Jahaan in the later stages of his life inquiring about the status of the tender.

Sethi sahab subtly inquiring about the delay in the payment of bribe. 

The Brochure:

Follow Hindi Drama Club, BITS Pilani on Facebook and @hindidramaclub on Instagram for updates.

||गर  हो  सके  तो अब कोई शमा  जलाईये || 

    Friday, July 21, 2017

    Bin Mandir Ka Bhagwaan

    Directed by:                         Shivank Garg & Shreya Hans
    Written by:                          Shivank Garg, Shreya Hans & Pradyumn Awasthi
    Assistant Director:          Pradyumn Awasthi
    Production Managers:  Mohit Soni, Shashwata Sinha
    Form:                                    Street Play
    Date:                                     9th February 2016

    Cast Members:

    Pranjal Deep, Aakash Juneja, Aishwarya Sharma, Shivank Garg, Shreya Hans, Deepansh Bhargava, Akansha Mittal, Kaushik Ramesh Iyengar, Arjun Mahendru, Pradyumn Awasthi, Gunjan Agarwal, Ayush Raj, Durjai Sethi, Mukundan Singh, Alanckrit Jain.

    The Play:

    For decades, from pre-independence to post-independence era, volumes have been spoken about the plight of farmers: the backbone of Indian economy, their tales of ill-treatment and ignorance towards the fundamentality of their contribution. Unfortunate incidents in the so called “modern contemporary India” reminding us of horrid atrocities against farmers under the British Raj, fuelled the writing for this play.
    With the directors & assistant director researching about various incidents across the nation, formulating notions and taking ideas from the plays performed in Bumboo(intra-club street play competition) wrote a gem of a script. Series of events throughout the play depicted different life stories of individuals, especially farmers, drowning in unfair debt, being tormented for more outputs for meagre reimbursements, tricked into giving up their land, and all of these possessing stark resemblance with the atrocious conditions and impositions the farmers had to survive during the British rule. Bin Mandir Ka Bhagwaan questioned about the idea of true and actual freedom. When freedom itself had failed to reach a specific, major chunk of the population, even after 6-7 decades of independence, were we really free?
    Starting with a self-written poem, interspersed with songs, rhymes and melodies to interact with the audience in an aesthetic and expressive way, the play majorly consisted of high intensity scenes, depicting stories of a mother killing her own child to save her from a future imminent death from starvation, unfurling the horrific irony of the food-producers of the nation dying from the lack of the same. The other stories consisted of a farmer being burdened with the impositions of an unfair pending debt in the name of his deceased father, trapped by the nexus of money-lenders, zamindars and politicians trying to capitalize on the farmer’s forced suicide. With other heart-wrenching tales and exact facts guiding the play throughout, Bin Mandir Ka Bhagwaan instilled sympathy for the farmers, made the spectators aware about their adverse situation, and made them doubt whether freedom reached every Indian or not.
    On the chilly night of 9th February 2016, a horde of teary eyed spectators, a more aware audience ignited to catalyse changes, left the FD-2 QT, leaving behind a group of red-kurta clad actors marinating in the success of dissipation of ideas and emotions that they could be a part of.

    Memories of the play:

    • ·         The idea of the play, stemmed from Shivank’s father suggesting him to write about the plight of Indian farmers, to not focus on how frequently it has been talked about, but to focus on how and why the condition has still not improved.
    • ·         Pradyumn, in his tenure as AssD, spent around a month living in Shivank’s room to catalyse the scripting process.
    • ·         Many a times, during the blockings, the songs wouldn’t come out in perfect coordination. To ensure that this doesn’t happen again, the directors made everyone walk (and sometimes even sing simultaneously) at the same pace, which they varied from 1-10(slowest to fastest); everyone had to walk at the pace, the number of which was instructed by the diros.
    • ·         According to the diros, this street play was different from the other street plays they had been a part of as it was much more serious as compared to the humorously interactive plays they had done before. This play spoke about a gravely serious issue and demanded the emotional intensity to be maintained and connected with the audience on a different frequency altogether.
    • ·         The diros had their set of favourite scenes: one being when the mother(Aishwarya) is forced to strangulate her own child, and the other being when a destitute farmer (Alanckrit) is beaten up by a moneylender. These scenes made the audience well up, some of them later contacting the actors as to tell them how impactful the scenes were and how much connected they felt with it, essaying comments like: " Why did you beat him up?”, “I cried in the scene when the child was being put down”.


    The hurdle before the play.

    Aakash Juneja exuding passion & intensity.

    The thespians humming "Baisakhi Punjab di".

    The destitute farmer(Alanckrit) being tormenting by the vile moneylender(Durjai).

    The cast involved in a structure replicating the farmers committing suicide,
    much like during the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of 1919. 

    The mother(Aishwarya) singing a lullaby to her child, eventually forced to suffocate her to death.

    The cast resonating at the same frequency, mid-song.

    A zamindar(Kaushik) after coercing a farmer to sell his daughter(Gunjan) to him,
    against his debt, molests her.

    A 3 pyramid structure that emphatically speaks volumes about the British hierarchy and dominance.

    The poor farmer(Alanckrit) evidently petrified by the zamindar.

    The Brochure:

    The Publicity Chart:

    Thursday, July 20, 2017

    Das Maathe Sau Naam

    Written & Directed by:  Aishwarya Sharma & Pradyumn Awasthi
    Production Managers:   Shashwata Sinha, Utkarsh Agarwal, Rishabh Gupta
    Form:                                   Oasis Street Play
    Date:                                      20th October 2016

    Cast Members:

    Aakash Juneja, Aishwarya Sharma, Kaushik Ramesh Iyengar, Arjun Mahendru, Pradyumn Awasthi, Gunjan Agarwal, Ayush Raj, Durjai Sethi, Mukundan Singh, Aakash Sharma, Gunraj Singh, Apoorv Singh Chandel, Harshit Gandhi, Shraddha Jain, Anirjit Hom Roy, Aditya Vikram.

    The Play:

    Das Maathe Sau Naam, a masterpiece of words, penned by Aishwarya Sharma and Pradyumn Awasthi, managed to convince its audience that a flip-side to the classic mythological tale of Ramayana did exist. No character deserves to be judged based on a story narrated from a biased single-sided perspective. Yet, since times unknown we have blindly believed in Ramayana being Ram’s eulogy and a tale that decimates Ravana’s character, regarding him as the epitome of evil.

    On the first day of Oasis ’16 under the scorching sun: passion, enthusiasm, conviction and belief resonated in every actor’s voice in the FD-2 QT. Every actor who entered the street play circle, surrounded by hundreds of spectators about to witness a paradigm shift in their ideologies about good and evil, had one motive in mind, to convince every soul witnessing this play that stories aren’t just black and white, they do have greys and more often than not they are like yin-yang. The script had to be cautiously written, keeping in mind while presenting a conviction of the good in Ravana’s evil, any fact should not be sabotaged or tampered with; or the play should not turn out to be a forced eulogy of Ravana instead.

    The play consisted of scenes from the Ramayana, shown from Ravana’s perspective: how his concern for his sister after being assaulted was justified, how Sita was swayed from her morals without using any force, of how her sanctity was kept intact even when in Ravana’s kingdom.

    The eventual feeling of ecstasy for the club, of securing second place in Oasis after 7 long years would still be trivialized by the sense of accomplishment felt, when during a scene in the end of the play every spectator was successfully convinced of the side of the story the play was narrating.

    A script, no less than a masterstroke, brimming with thought provoking notions, voiced by hard hitting dialogues, ensured that Das Maathe Sau Naam would shine eternally in all its glory and be remembered as an inspiration for years and batches of thespians to come.

    Memories of the play:

    • ·         With around 11 actors playing the role of Ravana in different scenes spread throughout the play, the directors had to make extra efforts in maintaining a similar character that was consistent throughout regardless of the actors’ prominent individual traits.
    • A major issue to be tackled during the blocking was that entire script was poetic, and to actually demarcate between the songs and dialogues was a task.
    • ·         The writing of this play was fuelled with volumes of research, namely reading the book Asura by Anand Neelkantan, watching plays, videos and readings off the internet based on the same or similar topics.
    • ·         In this demanding duration of developing this play, 4 senior members of the club whilst in Delhi (to watch a play for more ideas), to relieve themselves of the bottled up frustration that was taking a toll on them, had to go to spend a day in “Machaan”, which they would remember forever as a day of unquantifiable disclosures and memories.
    • ·         During the blocking and rehearsals of the play, Pradyumn(2014 batch) stayed for a month in Aakash Juneja’s (2013 batch) room, to catalyse the development of the play with a senior’s inputs. In Juneja’s words, “ajeeb tha, 3-1 mein main Diro, aur 4-1 mein Assistant Director?!”

    The Gallery:

    "Common Call" before the play starts, to attract the audience and indicate that the play is about to start.

    The hurdle, with the directors giving their final pep talk,  seconds before the play is about to start.

    Aishwarya Sharma (the director also) performing the role of Shroopankha,
     accusing Ram of ill-treating her solely because of her unrequited love.

    Structure depicting Sita's cottage in whilst serving exile.

    Another structure depicting how the society kept Ram on a pedestal.

    Aakash Juneja essaying the role of a battle lost Ravana.

    In a hypothetical parallel universe, where Lord Ram could be condemned
    for the unjust treatment he imposed on Sita.

    Lord Shiv, the deity Ravana worshipped, performing "the Taandav".

    Pradyumn Awasthi, taking a bow, in the final credits.

    Hindi Drama Club, 20th October 2016.

    Follow Hindi Drama Club, BITS Pilani on Facebook and @hindidramaclub on Instagram for updates.
    ||गर  हो  सके  तो अब कोई शमा  जलाईये || 

    Sunday, July 02, 2017

    Khaamosh! Adaalat Jaari Hai...

    Date :                            11th April 2017
    Directors :                     Arjun Mahendru and Utkarsh Agarwal
    Assistant Directors:       Aakash Sharma and Mukundan Singh
    Production Managers :   Pradyumn Awasthi, Alanckrit Jain and Rishabh Gupta
    Playwright :                   Vijay Tendulkar
    Form :                            Stage Play
    Type :                            Semester Production


    Sukhatme:         Shivank Garg
    Mrs. Kashikar:  Shashwata Sinha
    Mr. Kashikar:    Durjai Sethi
    Balu Rokde:      Ayush Raj
    Leela Benare:   Aditi Agarwal
    Samant:            Anirjit Hom Roy
    Ponkshe:           Aditya Vikram
    Karnik:             Apoorv Singh Chandel

    The Play

    "There is a higher court than the court of justice, which is the court of conscience."
    If it was remotely possible to summarize the soul of this play in a single line, the aforementioned line is the one that comes closest to encapsulating the essence of it.

    Miss Leela Benare, the chirpy & lively protagonist, kick starts the play with her quick humor and purposeful flirtatious jibes at the guileless Samant, with a hidden yet harmless ulterior motive. Samant, is the helper who is in charge to show the venue of the play to the theater company, of which Benare & other arriving members are a part of. 
    Mr. Kashikar, the owner of the theater company and the most influential character on stage approves the suggestion of making Samant a part of the play, tending to the absence of a few regular actors of their company. In order to facilitate the process of helping the theatrically inexperienced Samant learn the basics of acting for their show scheduled that night, they present to him a trial-run of a play, a mock play. The play is not scripted beforehand but is an on-screen adaptation and the story builds on as various actors lend different dimensions to the plot. With a basic premise set-up of Benare being accused of child-abortion, the play builds up to discussing the reasons behind the abortion, vilifying and objectifying the character of the female lead. 

    Mr. Kashikar assumes the role of the Judge, and Sukhatme a lawyer in real life, confidently assumes the roles of both the prosecutor and the defense lawyer, owing to the dearth of actors. As the remnant actors- Mrs. Kashikar, Ponkshe, Karnik & Rokde, playing witnesses, come up and narrate real-life incidents that act as build-ups to the story and present a convincing conviction of Benare, lines begin to blur between fiction and reality. In the mock play, Benare was accused of engaging in pre-marital activities of sexual nature and of trying to attempt suicide after no one responded to her pleas. Wherein, in real life too, Benare had encountered the same issues. 
    Since the play actors, who were merely improvising, didn’t realize that their accusations however true they might be, were the actualities of their fellow actor’s life. Benare, helplessly watching her personal traumas unfolding during the mock play in front of everyone, suffers intense mental agony as it confronted her with reality. In the end, Benare, or more accurately her inner voice, questions the society and tries to protect her sanctity. Tired of being questioned for her character, Benare ultimately breaks down and succumbs to what society and life have imposed on her.

    This masterpiece by Vijay Tendulkar transcends time and captivates viewers through generations because of its immense social relevance- cruelty against women, especially single women, a societal evil that still permeates human thinking.

    Memories of the play:

    • For the first time in a while, the directors used the "committed memory" technique- where the actors instead of memorizing the dialogues before hand, were blocked while delivering dialogues from their script, gradually getting the essence of the lines from verbal and action cues.
    • Before the actual blocking of the play began, the directors sat with the entire cast and clarified the doubts regarding any event in the script, reading the same again, line by line.
    • "Running situation" was played few times, with the directors making the cast enter various situations in their characters with the objective of seeing how they would tackle different situations in their characters.
    • The character sketches were kept in focus, their equations with each other, their history, their relationships, everything was to be specified by the cast.They were then questioned by the directors regarding even the most trivial details, let alone major character traits.


    Rokde being grilled, & bombarded by Sukhatme's questions.

    Allegations on Benare starting to break her down.

    Witnessing the court in procession.

    Sukhatme(as prosecutor) vainly pleading for forgiveness on Benare's behalf.

    Benare giving up and giving in, letting the gloom and helplessness take her over.

    The Publicity Chart:

    The Brochure:

    Follow Hindi Drama Club, BITS Pilani on Facebook and @hindidramaclub on Instagram for updates.

    ||गर  हो  सके  तो अब कोई शमा  जलाईये ||