Marathi Play: Mahanirvan
Born and raised in Maharashtra, I consider Marathi as my maternal language! It is true that I can read, speak, understand and even write Marathi better than Bangla language. When I was in primary municipal school, in the outskirts of Mumbai, my teacher along with my mother had decided that instead of Malayalam as the third language it will be Marathi.
I'd not seen a single play in Marathi till date. My brother, Prabir Bose, himself an expert of Theatre for Development, suggested (rather pushed) me to watch this play at NCPA, Mumbai. I am glad to listen and accept his advice.
This play is running for over 40 years making it older than me!
I think the actors are all new (not the ones who played 40 years ago) and some of the dialogues has nicely been adapted to suit the current scenario of the country.
Satish Alekar's Mahanirvan is more than a story about death man.. it takes the audience more in-depth to examine human society, relationships and our behaviour with 'rituals and traditions' and underlying politics.
Let me call it as a musical play in two acts with two key protagonists - sutradhars - the dead man and his son. Satish Alekar beautifully uses typical Maharashtrian regional folk songs and music such as Abhang, Bhajan, and Kirtans through out the 120 minutes. The interval/break in the play sees the shift of 'sutradhar' from dead man to his son. Of 15 men in the play there is only one woman - the widow - and her role is nicely placed from being dependent, to vulnerable, and to some one with desire. Alekar direction has left no gap in depicting the chawl atmosphere, or brining sarcasm in our belief-systems - be it in the form of black crow that claims monopoly in traditional ritual systems of death .. questioning what is culturally acceptable or prescribed and followed/passed-on blindly. I must admit Nachiket Devasthali's acting got me floored.
Each and every character is well-placed and audience is given a chance to understand the character - its relevance in the play/story. To me, the story is well executed and sometimes I found Marathi language was a bit too polished for me to understand, but that was only in a couple of dialogues. Overall, I would highly recommend to watch this play if you get a chance. Absolutely brilliant performance by the actors.
The Hindu has published a detailed review of this play, which you can read it here