Friday, March 11, 2011

The Wedding Album

We look into the interior of the house. The living room occupies the centre stage of the family drama, and spaces like kitchen, entrance, the TV room and the stairs scattered around it. This was the stage set for the ‘Wedding Album’.

An impressive crowd had turned up for the play at Tagore hall on the 10th of September in Ahmadabad with evident anticipation and expectations for Girish Karnad’s recent play. The play began after the organizers ‘We’ foundation welcomed this Mumbai based theatre group, by Lilette Dubey ,which has performed the play in various parts of the country already.
The play begins with the scripting scene of TV soap with attempts to identify what an interesting story can be. The creative head finds ‘the video footage with a self-conscious Vridula explaining herself to a prospective groom in the USA , very boring and unreal affair not suited for a prime time soap. It then flashbacks into a stereotypical snapshot family wedding scene -of Vridula. However as the play progresses, and the complexities and conflicts of each character in the family comes forth-far from any stereotypical. The plot line is simple, but the characters are not.

The actors Lillete and Ira Dubey and Suchitra Pillai have effortlessly slipped into being a middle class South Indian Nadkarny family in a Kanandiga village of Karwar. Particularly the latter, as a cynical wife and overprotective mother. As the father Amit Lal provides comic interludes and also shows a grappling patriarchal system almost reclusive with strong female individuals around. Rohit, and his love life- a hypocrisy existing within the youth, who reverently regard so called modern value system, at the same time don’t discard certain chauvinistic ones.(“I have a Catholic girlfriend”)

However the play received mixed reviews from the Amdavadi audience. Some ardent Karnad fans felt it didn’t meet his previous benchmarks. Some appreciated its multiple layers and attempts at a reflection of contemporary Indian middle class, typical to Karnad. Though the script is rich and strong, the monotony of some dialogues seems a drag. However, it includes some very subtle but effective details like Hema smiling at the letter, Vridula’s escapades at the cyber café, the social activists attacking the cyber café, Ashwin’s spiritual quest in an Indian bride.

The play somberly ends with the absent father watching TV, throwing light on him. (note the placement of the TV and the dramatic effect the light from the TV falling on his face) and the domestic help, who was assumed to have lost her insane daughter shares some revelations, only to conclude with the excitement she experiences when her master’s child relishes her cooking- a condition and complexity of being human.

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