Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mahesh Dattani 's Final Solutions at Epicentre,Gurgaon

Asmita theatre Group presents
Final Solutions
Written by: Mahesh Dattani
Arvind Gaur
Translated by: Shahid Anwar
Music: Sangeeta Gaur

20th & 21st September,2008, 7.30pm
Epi centre, Apparel House, Sector 44, Opp.
Power Grid Residential Complex, Gurgaon


Susan Brar, Amita Walia, Rashmi Singh,Viren Basoya,
Bajrang Bali Singh , Samina & Shilpi Marwaha
About the Play
"Final Solutions" has a powerful contemporary resonance as it addresses as issue of utmost concern to our society, i.e. the issue of communalism. The play presents different shades of the communalist attitude prevalent among Hindus and Muslims in its attempt to underline the stereotypes and clichés influencing the collective sensibility of one community against another.
What distinguishes this work from other plays written on the subject is that it is neither sentimental in its appeal nor simplified in its approach. It advances the objective candour or a social scientist while presenting a mosaic of diverse attitudes towards religious identity that often plunges the country into inhuman strife. Yet the issue is not moralised, as the demons of communal hatred are located not out on the street but deep within us.
The play moves from the partition to the present day communal riots. It probes into the religious bigotry by examining the attitudes of three generations of a middle-class Gujrati business family, Hardika, the grandmother, is obsessed with her father's murder during the partition turmoil and the betrayal by a Muslim friend, Zarine. Her son, Ramnik Gandhi, is haunted by the knowledge his fortunes were founded on a shop of Zarine's father, which was burnt down by his kinsmen. Hardika's daughter-in-law, Aruna, lives by the strict code of the Hindu Samskar and the granddaughter, Smita, cannot allow herself a relationship with a Muslim boy.
The pulls and counter-pulls of the family are exposed when two Muslim boys, Babban and Javed, seek shelter in their house on being chased by a baying Hindu mob. Babban is a moderate while Javed is an aggressive youth. After a nightlong exchange of judgements and retorts between the characters, tolerance and forgetfulness emerge as the only possible solution of the crisis. Thus, the play becomes a timely reminder of the conflicts raging not only in India but in other parts of the world.
Mahesh Dattani's final solutions in its Hindustan avatar sound and look much better than it did in the original English. Translator Shahid Anwar and director Arvind Gaur have made major improvements – and not merely of the cosmetic kind – to reveal the communal passions that scar our collective subconscious…the plot is straightforward.
Mobs are on the rampage in the city in the aftermath of an attack on a rathyatra passing through a Muslim locality…in a daring departure, Arvind gaur invites the audience to participate in a debate at the end of the play. And people have been staying backing large numbers to discuss the communal aspect of the drama…though there are the usual status quoits, strong voices have been raised for and against the treatment of the "guilty" majority and the "persecuted" minority.
With the screaming, stomping, sinister mob in thebackground of this high charged interplay, we have a dramatically explosive play on boards….Arvind Gaur pitched and kept the action at a level on high tension. .....
-Kavita Nagpal (Hindustan Times)
Final solution was first performed in Bombay under Alyque Padamsee's direction. It evolved through a workshop after the Ahmedabad riots, and gained relevance post the Mumbai riots; it has consistently been associated with them. Written in English final solution found an audience that normally chose to disassociate itself with the harsh realities of life and pretend that certain situations did not exist.
An audience that went to the theatre to be entertained was suddenly confronted with its own reality…there was a negative anger with the audience. It was an anger towards being made to feel apologetic for one's own being, one's faith. There was resentment at being portrayed as "the enemy"…Shahid Anwar has translated the script in to a simply written but highly forceful and evocative Hindustani script for Asmita. Directed by Arvind gaur, the first Hindustani version of final solutions premiered in September 1997. an intense play it confronts a situation where Hindu Muslim animosity develops in to chaos…what eventually come across (apart from the larger fact of communalism) is that all the characters are victims of circumstances and social conditioning and what was a personal experience for them , gains the enormity of a larger perspective.
The chorus is something that drew a lot of comment … here the design is straightforward. Its continual presence, its hovering proximity and its occasionally threatening, occasionally silent almost oppressive nearness, constantly comments upon and envelops the action inside the Gandhi household. Shifting from the two communities it also comments upon the fact that a mob has no name, no loyalty. If the price is right so is the cause. The play is powerful, the production intense, the subject difficult, the response good.
- Smita Nirula (Review)
Play, that looks at India - now and henceforth; both forceful and relevant…communalism? One community hates another. One community is in the majority, the other is in the minority. Consequently, the two communities are at loggerheads, living in a atmosphere of conflict and acrimony. The 1990's have seen a number of films, plays and dissertations, which have tried to lift the cover off this contemporary scourge. And some where in the volley of questions and answers. There comes forth a reductive analysis, which reduces a complex phenomenon to a series of cause and effects. Rarely do we come across serious attempts that go beyond the superficial lesions and talk about the problem with all its complexities.
Mahesh Dattani's is that rare look at the socio-political problem that defines all final solutions. In Dattani’s view, Hindus and Muslims are not just two cardboard communities who clash when a procession is stoned, a pooja is disrupted, a mosque is dismantled. These for him, are just the jagged tips of an ominous iceberg. One that threatens to freeze the entire landscape into polarized communities that live by intolerance and hate in place of harmony…more important is the iceberg an amorphous mass that glorifies the credo of unity in diversity without actually understanding the meaning of diversity…the play looks straight in to the heart of fundamentalist and the liberal and tears down the prototypes…
Asmita's Hindustani adaptation of the play (by Shahid Anwar) , under Arvind gaur 's competent direction, managed to retain the philosophical import of the text, without losing out on the visual appeal . The inter-cutting passage through time was handled innovately by keeping all the three generations of the Gandhi family on stage for the play. The constant presence of the shadowy mob at the back with its hysterical chants represents the ongoing scourge of communalism, which has persisted since partition. Intense, topical, artistically mounted, Asmita's final solutions brought back memories of Habib Tanvir's rendition of jis Lahore nahin dehya and Saeed Mirza's Naseem, two other meaningful attempts to address the issue of communalism.
-Nikhat Kazmi (Times of India)

Good play , good acting…finds a chord with the audience…Mahesh Dattani’s 'final solutions'( a title derived from Nazi pogroms) is a commendably bold play in that it closely studies the communal virus which took centre stage in Indian society culminating in the Ayodhya demolition and the horrific bomb blasts in Mumbai. Though the Bangalore based Gujrati playwright had Ahmedabad extended spells of communal violence in mind when he wrote " final solution' his analysis of the problem was tellingly applicable to the post-Ayodhya situation…Asmita and Arvind gaur did well to pick up the thread from Padamsee with a fine Hindustani translation by Shahid Anwar…gaur's forte is powerful crowd scenes accented with physical action and emotional dialogue calling for histrionic and declamatory skills of a high order the play has plenty of both. A yelling menacingly muscular chorus line is the ugly face of majority communalism. It also doubles as the more subtle but also more sinister visage of minority fanaticism…in all an enjoyable play worth every minute of it. Mahesh Dattani script adhered to faithfully, adds to the pleasure.
- Drama critic.

Something to reflect upon…Asmita's production is simple and intense. The feeling of a pro-Muslim or a pro-Hindu bias was happily not there. The director invited the audience to stay after the play and conduct a dialogue with the team. Some of the responses from the audience were humbling. Two elderly gentlemen felt that they has given them something to reflect upon and had proved that there was hope for the future; Babban's last line "if you are willing to forget, am willing to tolerate" gave them food foe thought. When asked about biases, the audience was quite clear in its response: "the production is balanced "…chorus drew a lot of comment… shifting between the two communities, it also comments upon the fact that a mob has no name, no loyalty. if the price is the right , so is the cause, cash is king…that the Asmita company has worked very hard on this not-so-easy production is obvious…communal angle comes across loud and clear…something you can take home with you to think about.
The play is powerful, the production is intense, the subject difficult,the response good..
-Smita Narula (The Pioneer)

Off with the language barrier…proved its mettle Dattani is India's leading contemporary English language playwright…final solutions bares the ugly face of communalism. It took moral courage , in the immediate after math of the Babri masjid nightmare, on the part of Dattani to write the the play…mercifully the communal temperature now a days is more normal… nonetheless , staging of the play has moral merit and Asmita can take justifiable pride in maintaining its tradition of socially relevant theatre …final solution moves from partition to present day communal tension…the Asmita production scored over padamsee's English original in that power dialogue came across as more realistic and authentic…gaur's innovation of a background chorus by turn , violent Hindu and Muslim mobs are effective.
-G. George (The Statesman)

A show not to be missed…final solution makes a point: look for communal hatred not on the streets but deep inside ourselves…Dattani’s best play so far and as in some of his other plays, he takes the family unit as his locale and "moves between the past and the present."
The playwright takes three generations of a middleclass family as his base and through undercurrents that effect its members , explores the psyche of his characters in these days of communal strife…quite a few plays have been written on the communal theme but 'final solutions" is perhaps the only one so far which, instead of moralizing and raising hollow slogans for communal harmony , examines the issue from the point of view of a sociologist and says "communal hatred is located not out on the street but deep inside ourselves," the play holds a mirror to the society we live in…the director Arvind gaur has done away with hackneyed masks or other paraphernalia to identify the mob for they are lumpens – sometimes Hindus ,sometimes Muslim.
We recognize them only through there slogans and war cries their comments and questions. It is money that collects the crowd, and as the mob outside the house disappears: Javed says" may be they aren't paid overtime"…what a beautiful play, beautifully translated, and beautifully directed…"final solutions" is a demanding play and the cast as a whole tries its best…the response was overwhelming, particularly from the younger generation .the message had gone down well.
The play holds a mirror to the society we live in. …
-Romesh Chander (The Hindu)
On a more contemporary note, Mahesh Dattani's FINAL SOLUTIONS directed by Arvind Gaur easily stood out as one of the few truly satisfying experiences of this eleven day treat (9th national theatre festival, Nehru Centre,Mumbai) for the senses. As the dramatic tension (neatly orchestrated by a chorus) rises in the play, the subterranean psyche of each character is laid bare.Abuses are hurled, raw passions are evoked, attempts at reconciliation are made and prejudices and fears are acknowledged The beauty of the script indeed lies in its ability to relentlessly and sensitively question. Its urgent need to use 'dialogue' as a remedy for a socially pressing issue such as communalism, is the play's underlying theme. Arvind Gaur's direction is commendable. While the front of the stage is peopled by the principal characters who are psychologically exorcizing themselves, the back part of the stage has a chorus whose role is as symbolic as it is instrumental in furthering the action in the play when required.
Solution’ has successfully highlighted the partition-related malaise, which is not just prevalent in our society until today, but fast spreading its tentacles. It raises all those questions, which either remain unresolved or have not been addressed so far…. An honest effort towards actually restoring communal harmony has yet to be made…Summing up, the play was successful in holding the interest of the spectators and keeping them involved.
-Vikram Prajapati (Navbharat Times)

Acrobatic performance…Communal frenzy knows no bounds.
It can touch any extremes; yet human compassion holds high n stays aloft. This truth has been depicted by Mahesh Dattani’s English play ‘Final Solution’, translated into Hindi by Shahid Anwar…The storyline is quite deep and touching and forces people to think many times and truly shows a new and relevant path.
-Jag Mohan ( Dainik Hindustan Times)
Successful staging of final solution…Arvind Gaur directed play ‘Final Solution’ depicts the travails of a middle class family after the communal riots. The riot scenes were quite impressive.
-Nagar Samvadata

Experimental direction…Final Solution has been a presentation, which is not just seen in the auditorium, but the issue stays with the viewers, to be taken home and pondered & mulled over… Arvind Gaur’s pragmatic direction casts its spell on the viewers. For those who have not seen ‘Final Solution’, it is like an opportunity gone by….
- Gulush Swami (Deshbandhu, Jabalpur)

Its dark reflections hover in the thought-strands, movements, perceptions and rationale. Mahesh Dattani’s ‘Final Solutions’ is a play that presents such a nightmarish phase, which haunts in different forms all through the life…The roots of communalism are not just entrenched in the society, but have also rooted/lodged themselves as decisive elements in our psyche/thought processes. Though the characters have pointed out at the causes that disrupt the peace and harmony and lead to unrest, through their expressions and body-language, Arvind has projected the socio-psychological tides and trends/dynamics through the use of chorus, which is magical with its harmonious blend of sounds and dialogues…Shahid Anwar’s Hindi translation of ‘Final Solution’ is based on the background of Gujarat riots.
The entire gamut of its dramatic possibilities has been well projected by Arvind Gaur, during its recent presentation at India Habitat Centre…Revolving around three generations, the events in the play unfold at a swift pace, weaving the post-independence partition riots, with the communal riots of today in a common strand. Memories are the focal-point of the play…
Arvind’s experiments with the technique and fabric have been much appreciated. He is quite a matured and visionary theatre personality. Overall, the flawless presentation, direction and performances draw you to the play over and again & give it a repeat-value.
-Rashtriya Sahara

There come those moments, when situations compel an individual to introspect, understand and restrain oneself so-as-to avert disastrous consequences…all this is brought out by Asmita’s recent presentation ‘Final Solution’, directed by Arvind Gaur. Asmita and Arvind are synonymous and thus inseparable…
The play moves at a furious pace, and comes to a point where man is forced to introspect, for communalism is not outside but within. One needs to feel and understand this. If each individual of every community thinks right then he would know that communalism germinates and blossoms within. The weed of Communalism eats us inside out, and benefits none. It is like a wild growth in a field, which eats up the crop itself…Various possibilities and strains emerge on watching this play. Events unfold fast, keeping the viewer completely hooked. The team of seasoned artists, add to the natural flow & fluidity. The direction is taut and none escapes the director’s keen eye. The set was handled, by Tribhuvan.
-Dr Prem Sharan Sharma (theatre review)

Mahesh dattani opens up a lively debate on communalism in the play final solutions, translated in to Hindi by Shahid Anwar… fine performances and a powerful chorus added to the play force.
- Indian express

Promoting theatre of substance…aesthetically innovative and socially relevant theatre…"final solution has a powerful contemporary resonance as the central issue of communalism is of the utmost concerns of our society," says Arvind Gaur the director. Presenting different shades of communalist attitudes prevalent among Hindus and Muslims, the play attempts to underline the stereotypes influencing the collective sensibility of one community against another.
Moving from partition to the present day communal riots.
Final solutions examines the attitudes of three generations of a gujrati business family…he says, ' memory plays an important role in the play as reminiscences of the characters develop the plot. I have used a chorus to perform the visual element and images. Not only that, the chorus also turns into props or represents society or becomes the audience with in the play."…" all the characters stay on stage throughout.
There is no formula of entry and exit," explains Arvind. "This is a technique of alienation as the actors not involved in the action stand in one corner to divert attention and alleviate the audience response to the stage activity."…
Arvind does not believe in using theatre as a medium to merely titillate or incite revolution but as a means to increase awareness…he says, "I don’t want to impose my biases on the audience. let them as they are aware, decide for themselves…
Asmita is known for long post performance discussions with the audience and also for incorporating the suggestions in subsequent stagings…naturally, continuous training and development is Asmita's major concern…the concept of a born actor is being eroded, directors realize that training is indispensable…we may be celebrating fifty years of freedom but theatre is still not free" says Arvind…"serious theatre exists and so does the will to carry on which is evident in the number of productions coming up, not only by professional groups but also by college dramatics societies."
-First city magazine
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 re-emerge. 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. I have attempted to experimentwith the chorus. It has been used in a style, which I would like to call 'realistic stylisation'. The chorus represents the conflicts of the characters. Thus the chorus is a sense is the psycho-physical representation of the characters and also provides the audience with the visual images of the characters' conflicts. There is no stereotyped use of the characterisation of the chorus because communalism has no face, it is an attitude and thus it becomes an image of the characters. The sets and properties used in the play are simple. This has been done to accentuate the internal conflicts and the subtext of the play. Theatre for 'Asmita' and me isa method of reflection, understanding and debating the contemporary socio-political issues through the process of the play. We hope the play will also have a lasting impact on the audience.

1 comment:

Aijaz Ahmad said...

My experience has been bitter with the play discussions in the class room. I am a muslim but secular in mind and i believe in such ideas while the Professor was analyzing the play he went against the muslims and started abusing i was very much astonished, there some foreign students in my class he has degraded the muslims in the class and i stood to back answer him.
what i mean to say is that we are fine present generation believes in secularism it these age old moths of traditional bones that create problem by analysing the text in their own way.
the dramatists perspective gets vanished in their rotten heads