Friday, September 30, 2005


A Hindi production of Mahesh Dattani's Final Solutions comes to Mumbai

Deepa Gahlot

Final Solutions is one of Mahesh Dattani's best known plays, it has had several productions (including one at Bangalore's Rang Shankara earlier this year), and won the playwright Mahesh Dattani a Sahitya Akademi Award.

His fifth play was eerily prescient, since it was written in 1991 before the Mumbai communal riots. The first production of the play to be directed by Dattani himself in Bangalore, was cancelled due to its volatile content. A little later, when the riots had given it a frightening relevance, Alyque Padamsee did a critically acclaimed production in Mumbai.

The play is about a Hindu family sheltering two Muslim boys during a riot, during the course of which deep seated prejudices are uncovered.

Mumbai will see a Hindi version of the play (Shahid Anwar adapted it), directed by Arvind Gaur, at the ongoing National Theatre Festival at Nehru Centre.

Arvind Gaur who heads the Delhi-based theatre group Asmita has done over 48 plays in the 12 years since he set up the group, and most of them have been socially relevant; Girish Karnad's Tuglaq, Dharamveer Bharti's Andha Yug, Dario Fo's An Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Munshi Premchand's Moteram Ka Satyagrah, Ashok Lal's Ek Mamooli Aadmi, Pinki Virani's Bitter Chocolate, Bhishma Sahani's Madhavi, Manjula Padmanbhan' Hidden Fires to name a few.

His latest production, Mr Jinnah was banned in Delhi leading to widespread protests by the theatre community. Final Solutions is still as powerful as when it was first performed-though it has been criticized for being a one-sided portrayal of communalism. The play examines the problem of communalism from the days of Partition to the present, through the eyes of three generations of a Gujarati Hindu family.

Hardika, the grandmother, cannot forget the Partition trauma, the betrayal by a Muslim friend and her father's murder. Her son lives with the guilt that his fortunes were founded on the ashes of a Muslim establishment burnt down by a Hindu mob. Hardika's daughter-in-law is a strict Hindu and the granddaughter cannot think of a relationship with a Muslim boy. The inner turmoil is exposed when two Muslim boys, Babban and Javed, being chased by Hindu rioters seek refuge in their house.

While a verbal and spiritual tug of war goes on, a Chorus comments on the conflicts faced by the characters-a device that helps put the various issues into perspective in the intense and disturbing play.

Gaur says in his Director's Note: " Final Solutions touches us, and the bitter realities of our lives so closely that it becomes a difficult play to handle for the Indian director. The past begins top determine the outlook of the present and thus the earlier contradictions reemerge. No concrete solutions are provided in the play to the problem of communalism but it raises questions on secularism and pseudo secularism. It forces us to look at ourselves in relation to the attitudes that persist in the society. Since it is an experiment in time and space and relates to memory, it is a play, which involves a lot of introspection on the part of the characters in the play and thus induces similar introspection in the viewers."

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