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Posted at: Aug 11, 2017, 2:36 AM; last updated: Aug 11, 2017, 2:36 AM (IST)

Thunderous applause for ‘Main Se Badh Kar’

Thunderous applause for ‘Main Se Badh Kar’
Actors in the play “Main Se Badh Kar” in Jalandhar on Thursday. A Tribune Photograph

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 10

Arthur Miller’s classic “All My Sons” was revisited in the localised rendition titled “Main Se Badh Kar”, staged by the Yuvaa Theatre group, at the Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya in Jalandhar today.

Organised by the Budding Brontes English Literary Society of Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalaya, the play was designed and directed by Prof Ankur Sharma.

Yuvaa marked another first with this outing as it for the first time that a college staged a play in exchange for donation passes duly paid for by students. Before this, all play groups have only held free theatre screenings in Jalandhar.

With the eternal military-politico discourse in the country centered around the sacrifices of the Army personnel, giving Arthur Miller’s classic a new viability, especially in view of the present Indian context, the play once again brought to fore the theme of the havoc wreaked by capitalist mindsets for whom – contrary to propaganda – a soldier’s life sells for a pittance compared to monetary gains.

However, when that very capitalist mindset claims the life of someone closer home, one’s own demons come back to haunt them.

In the story, an industrialist (Dhanraj Kapoor), responsible for supplying defective cylinders for army planes, frames his partner-neighbour friend (Avinash Khurana) for the fiasco, while himself pretending he had pneumonia on the ill-fated night.

Concomitantly, one of his (two) sons, Tejas is reported missing on the front and another (Dhairya) is busy fighting on the front.

While Dhanraj’s wife Maya holds onto the precious memory of her son hoping he is still alive, Dhairya and Tejas’ fiance (Ananya) are keen to move on towards matrimony despite Maya’s assertive insistence that Ananya should wait for Tejas.

As Ananya’s brother turns up at the house enraged at Kapoor’s (Dhanraj) betrayal against his father, skeletons tumble out of the cupboard one by one as Ananya also eventually produces the last letter sent by Tejas to her and eventually reveals his father’s sending of faulty cylinders to the army – which ended up claiming the lives of 21 soldiers and claimed Tejas’ life shattered by the revelation and blamed by his only living son Dhairya, for his brother’s death, Dhanraj eventually claims his own life – shooting himself. An actual 15-second Barkha Dutt byte of reporting from Kargil sets a dramatic and catchy start for the play.

While the characters of Maya and Dhairya are most nuanced among the lot, Dhanraj’s also brings out the conflicts between the warring sides of his personality – a loving father, a pacifying husband, a guilty-but-in-denial friend and a shattered man ultimately falling prey to his dying son’s disdain for him.

While the chivalry of the soldiers and the conscientious citizens is juxtaposed against the cowardice of the moneyed fence sitter, who would rather watch a few men die for the sake of a mere contract, in this celebrated war time classic, the play also aptly emphasised the point that in the end, we are all humans and susceptible to follies of one or the other kind. However, it also underscores that it’s best to realise these errors, before it’s too late.

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