Nikolai Gogol once said, “It’s the most righteous, which of course is not the same thing as the most profitable.”
‘Kissago Threatre‘ and ‘Theatre for a Cause‘ staged a satirical play in Hindi, ‘Jee Huzoor’, at Phoenix Arena, Hyderabad, on Friday, 15th September 2017. Part of a month long ‘Theatre for a Cause’ mission organised to support and raise funds for a fellow theatre actor battling Cancer, the proceeds earned from the play would go toward his treatment.
‘Jee Huzoor‘, meaning, ‘Yes Sir’, is an adaption of Russian writer Nikolai Gogol‘s satirical play ‘The Government Inspector‘ written in 1836. Sai Paranjpe, acclaimed Director, Screenwriter of award winning films like Katha, Sparsh, Chashme Buddoor and Disha, adapted the play in Hindi. The core theme of the play is Corruption, a debilitating disease that not only adversely affects the economic growth of a nation, but also cripples the moral foundations of a civilized society.
Set in the mid-1980’s, Director Subhash Gupta’s ambitious play efficiently highlights the infested governing systems of India. Director Gupta himself essayed the role of a corrupt bureaucrat, Jagdamba Prasad, posted in a remote town of Tikamganj. The collector is shaken and stirred when he receives a notification that a government assigned officer has secretly arrived in town to take stock of his reprobate governance and illegal recruitment of officers at government institutions. How he mobilizes his team to search for that officer and bring him under the umbrella of his nefarious activities is the backbone of this play.
In the cast were Kissago Theatre’s formidable actors in memorable roles – the collector’s young third wife and an attractive daughter; a matriculate government school Head-master; a Veterinarian assigned as a Surgeon at a government hospital; a Lawyer running a poultry pen at the local magistrate’s court; a gossiping Postman; two colluding Priests from a local temple, and a penniless ruffian mistaken as a government official.
The script was gripping. Direction and performances were flawless. The humor was far reaching, and dialogues, rib-ticklingly funny. As in most plays that I watch, I had favorite characters here too. Nikhil Jadhav and Avkash Mahanta hit a bulls-eye with their performance in the role of opportunist temple priests. They had me in splits with their rhythmic comic timing. Abhijeet Deshpande’s character in the mistaken identity of a government officer was a treat to watch as he serenaded both, the collector’s wife and daughter.
Strangely, first written almost two centuries ago, the play continues to draw parallels in corrupt governance between two distinctly different eras. Most of us in the audience felt that the theme was relevant even today.
Although, it was a delightful evening spent in the company of theatre afficionados, we went back with a heavy heart and prayers on our lips for the wealthy boy who, despite the lack of an impressive bank balance, has accumulated precious treasures of the heart that will last several lifetimes. Here’s wishing team Kissago the best in their endeavors to bring their colleague back on stage.