A metaphorical MRI scan of the millennial brain.
Natak Company's latest production A Doubtful Gaze At Uber At Midnight is a thought provoking play, which makes you question is this right or wrong, written by Dharmakirti Sumant, directed by Alok Rajwade and performed by Siddharth Menon and Bhagyashree Bhagade. This is an uber ride from humor to false consciousness to political affirmations till finding the Arth in eArth.
I watched it on a Saturday evening at GyaanAdab and here is what I feel about the play.
The first thing that I can relate this play to is with Schrodinger's cat thought experiment, which is sometimes described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrodinger in 1935. The scenario presents a hypothetical cat that may be simultaneously both alive and dead, a state known as a quantum superposition, as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur. The difference between both is that there are only two choices in the Schrodinger’s cat experiment, but this play wants you to look beyond the two choices. It reminds that there are infinite possibilities, infinite sides to a particular situation. It tells you that the real debate is not Rahul vs Modi/ Left vs Right but to find the third. Also center is not a third, center is center.
For someone like me who is an active theater admirer from the city, I was unaware about Dharmakirti Sumant and his work, by the word unaware I mean we weren’t connected on Facebook because all this life is a Mark Zuckerberg’s game. I have seen him before at different shows but this was the first time I was listening to him while the audience had a chat with the team. His answers to various questions asked gave a clear idea about the depth he has explored while writing this play. In fact, I wonder what must have gone into his head while writing this play, his mind mapping would make a complex illustration of what is equivalent to the ICC super over rules. We are not talking about right or wrong, yes or no, plus or minus, head or tail in this play, we are exploring the third here and this play surely asks us to think above what options are available, it asks you to create your third or fourth or fifth option. If not creating an option, it at least makes you question the first two that are available.
After some stalking and digging on search engines about Dharmakirti I would say that he is someone from whom we can expect a Black Mirror sort of thing in the Drama scene of India. He should start renting his mind to uplift the intellect level of our country, look at this situation here.
This is not a judgmental blog nor a review, I am writing my experience of watching this play so I am not going to give stars or share what the director or actor can improve upon. I definitely like the work Siddharth Menon (Saket in the play) and Alok Rajwade have done.
Especially Alok for making the play in a minimal setup, I have noticed this frequently across the country that directors want to have minimal set design (the fashion of having a gigantic unnecessary set only gets you marks in Firodiya Karandak) because it is so much easier to travel to different cities and there won't be a problem to host this play at any venue, they can even perform this at a Starbucks or CCD. The metaphors he creates is brilliant and I love how they made this entire play in such short timelines for Serendipity Arts Festival. I think three of them collectively are motivated towards the root idea of this play which makes a brilliant collaborative show.
The play has some very relevant experiences of laughter from our everyday lives with the cab drivers, girlfriend, roommates and then takes you on a plateau of boredom to create that frustrating laughter. From there, it will take you to those existential crisis you have been observing in your head but never given a thought to lately. But here you are in a play, you cannot divert your thoughts by scrolling through your phone or talk to somebody beside you, you have to watch somebody on the stage going through all that you have been going through and there is no other option but to think about it. It is like the first experience of meditation, it is tough and sometimes saddening. In The Joe Rogan Experience podcast with Naval Ravikant, he says if you can be with your thoughts alone for 15 minutes, you are a happy personality.
On the other hand, Saket the unemployed man standing at Pune university chowk at midnight experiences what we face everyday ‘Ha bhaiya kaha ho aap?’ . Saket represents everyone that you see around yourself today, the guy who talks about climate change, global warming but throws the Bisleri bottle on the road. That guy who has his earphones tangled to death always, has no money in his PayTm account, preparing to grab government jobs, has a girlfriend who calls him a million times while he is on another call (she might also be pregnant which makes it even more relatable to the millennial), a friend who has cops at his door and he is that guy who has a delusional confidence that the world is a lovely place.
Everything that is happening for Saket in the play is real and he has no planning for those spontaneous set of events occurring. But for the audience, we are not sure if this is real or hallucination.
The girl who sells balloon (Bhagyashree) is a reminder to the audience and Saket of realism to surrealism to realism to surrealism shifts in the play. Her role shouldn’t be defined by the duration of time she is on the stage but how much importance she holds in the script. She once enters with Taal movie cassette in her hand and Saket starts singing Ishq Bina (you would understand my exaggeration here once you watch the show)
This play doesn’t tell you what to think, it brings references for you like Dabolkar, Gauri Lankesh and creates that itch in your mind to think. It is very important that we take things happening around us a little seriously and not with the procrastinating attitude. The dialogue needs to start now, the art has to come out now and we need to think beyond the enslaved societal boundaries.
I hope we solve this millennial problem soon and give a Fields Medal award to whosoever defeats the Zuckerberg game.
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