Late Sunday night on February 5, Theatre lovers across the city were driving to Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha. After all witnessing the 66th rendition of the Marathi play, ‘Vyakti Ani Valli’ was indeed a special treat.
Adapted from the legendary Author Purushottam Laxman Deshpande’s book, this show was produced by Director Mahesh Manjrekar’s team. Directed by Chandrakant Kulkarni, the popular play has long had a special place in the hearts of Puneites.
The promise of powerful performances by the likes of Anand Ingale, Sunil Barve, Rajan Bhise and Bhalchandra Kadam had the auditorium jam-packed with theatre enthusiasts by 9.30 pm.
As soon as the play began, the audience was plunged into the narrator’s life and introduced to characters drawn from Pu La’s own life. Interestingly, the man himself used to play the narrator’s role when the play was first performed. Today, you delve into the lives of his carefully penned characters starting with Narayan.
Centre stage is the amiable fellow who promptly rushes around helping everyone in sight. From wedding arrangements to funeral rites, he sees to everyone’s needs paying little attention to his own. That is when you sympathize with the man whose efforts are largely overlooked.
With Narayan began a parade of characters, each more intriguing than the last. Some tickle your ribs and have you shaking with laughter while others such as the perpetual bachelor and suave casanova have you thinking of similar individuals in your own lives!
Pu La helps you discover the humane side of the impenitent criminal who was once an innocent youth, wrongly incarcerated. He then gently hints at the importance of exploring life beyond books and literature with the young bookworm’s character who the author later guides toward a full life.
But most significantly, the author reveals shades of grey in everyday characters and cautions you against seeing just their positive or negative traits. Pu La’s true genius surfaces as he sees the potential in the little guy and even the school-yard bully while most may just notice a flawed individual.
Adapted beautifully by Mr. Ratnakar Matkari, the stellar writing was brought to life with exceptional performances by Sunil Barve, Rajan Bhise and Bhalchandra Kadam.
As the narrator concludes the drama, he weaves together a comical tapestry of diverse characters who share a common thread- their undeniable need of feeling loved and accepted.
When the curtain falls at midnight, you reluctantly float down to reality having spent a happy couple of hours exploring the lives and characters Pu La fashioned long ago.
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