Thursday, June 14, 2012

Review - "Ambedkar Aur Gandhi" Play by Asmita Theatre Group

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and M K Gandhi – two founding fathers of independent modern India. One would assume that wise men think alike. However, sometimes two wise people think so differently that it is hard to imagine that they might have the same goal.

“Ambedkar Aur Gandhi” is a stage play by Asmita Theatre Group - directed by Arvind Gaur, is about the different approaches and ideologies followed by these two leaders for upliftment of harijan class. It is set in pre and post independent era (off-course) when India is about to get independent and a new constitution is to introduced which would benefit all. The play is one long debate between these leaders and several monologues of how they want to solve the problem of casteism and give equal rights to all. I will not delve into who says what because it is a political debate - which this whole play is about.

Watching this play was one of the most intellectually stimulating experiences I have had in my life. We have heard of movies, TV serials, plays and other shows which people say you should watch and enjoy ‘by keeping your brains at home’. This is absolutely opposite of that. Just to understand and comprehend the conversation, one would need their brains working at full capacity. Someone like me will have to borrow neighbour’s brain to process all the information, language and deep ideology in this play. The script is much more than just a literal master piece written in impeccable language. Playwright Rajesh Kumar did extensive research and the content is gathered from several of the letters exchanged between Bapu and Ambedkar. Music by Dr Sangeeta Gaur and poetry by Avataar Singh Paash add much more depth and richness to the act. You will be lost in the lyrical and musical harmony and I struggled to grasp the deep meaning of the words.

It is written after extensive research and showcases the different approaches by Dr Ambedkar and Babu. It also talks about how Dr Ambedkar was one of the first people from a lower caste who attained influence through sheer hard work and achievements while battling discrimination. The one I saw had Bajrang Bali Singh playing Ambedkar and Viren Basoya playing Gandhi. These two actors have come so close to on-stage characterization of these leaders that the image would be set in your minds. We grew up watching Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi movie on Gandhi Jayanti and the image of Ben Kingsley as Gandhi is imbedded in our minds. After watching this play, now I have more than one image of Gandhi and Ambedkar in my mind. This is how close they get to personifying these two personalities from history books.

I will recommend this to everyone but this is no walk in the park, sit back relax and enjoy the play production. Your brains would be working overtime while watching it. You will go back home thinking. While musicals serenade your ears, comedies tickle your funny bone, debates stimulate our vocal chords this stage rendition of one of the most important, but lesser known, events of India is a stimulant for brain. So if you are going to watch this play, ideally it would be great if you could read about it – debate between Ambedkar and Gandhi or at the very least, put your thinking caps on. In this era of dumb television and movies sometimes you have to turn to theater to keep your brain from becoming a vegetable.

Play Details:

Play Name: Ambedkar Aur Gandhi
Director: Mr. Arvind Gaur
Written by: Mr. Rajesh Kumar
Music: Dr Sangeeta Gaur
Songs and Poetry Written by: Avataar Singh (Paash)

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