Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: ‘Big B’, a true tribute to Munshi Premchand

Samta Prasad and Kamta Prasad
Photo Courtesy: Pierrot’s Troupe
Munshi Premchand, the iconic figure of Hindi and Urdu literature was way ahead of his time. He could comprehend the flaws of the education system which has been ruining generations over the decades. His short story “Bade Bhaisahab” not only critically analyses the education system which gives more importance to marks above anything but also brings forward the emotions of human minds like none other. ‘Big B’, Pierrot’s Troup’ adaptation of Bade Bhaisahab is as magical as the story by the veteran!

Big B is one of the most successful ongoing productions of the Troup. This review is of the show at Stein Auditorium, IHC, on July 14, 2013.

Ten minutes into the play, and you are in love with the three characters on the stage! This is how one can sum up the performance. The play has its own flavor and one can say that it only borrows the storyline from the short story. The adaptation by Dr. M. Sayeed Alam and Niti Sayeed is a brilliant piece of literature in itself. Sayeed Alam and Niti Sayeed are also the directors of the play. Sayeed Alam also plays the character of Kamta Prasad, the Big B or Bade Bhaisahab.

It is a simple narration of the lives of two brothers Kamta Prasad and Samta Prasad. Samta is the narrator of the story and shares stories related to his times in Banaras where the two brothers were sent to study in school. The story has a background of pre-independent India. This setting gives the liberty to play with the usage of English. The brothers, who have a rural background, always talk in English because Kamta Prasad had realized the importance of English in order to pass the examination. This plot gives rise to extremely witty situations and not for a moment the audience feels anything has been exaggerated. Actors playing Kamta Prasad and Samta Prasad do justice to the characters created by Premchand with utter honesty. Samta Prasad’s character has been played by Ramnaresh Diwakar who brings life to Samta, a student of class 6 (and later class 8).

Special mention goes for the actor who played Samta Prasad, the narrator, aged 80 years. It was played by Ajay Sharma, who stole the show at least for this audience. Ajay breaks the fourth wall and enters the stage from the audience. Not for a moment anybody can doubt his age! His dialogue delivery was impeccable, and seldom does Delhi theatre see such a performance. A particular sequence of a joke on Ashish Nehra and Samta Prasad’s brief career in cricket was outstandingly humorous- perfect timing!

The dialogues of the play, written by Sayeed Alam and Niti Sayeed, have serious political connotations attached to them which are relevant for the present era as well. Primary focus of this production was to bring out the emotional and witty side of the character of Kamta Prasad, which it does. But at the same time, in a very subtle manner, it also brings out the aspect that he is also a victim of a flawed education system. At the same time Samta’s character comes across as a younger brother who respects his Big B, but like any average tier 2 Indian boy can never tell this to his brother. Same goes for Kamta’s character.

It was a flawless performance and is a must watch for everybody who loves good theatre!

This review was first published in My Theatre Cafe on July 16, 2013

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