Life lessons

Ambika Shaligram
Saturday, 12 January 2019

Chatting up Bikash Kumar Singh who will be bringing his Hindi play Jeevan Ek Rangmach to Pune Natyasattak

When you tell someone leading a melancholic existence that a beautiful, thriving life awaits them if they take a leap into the afterworld, does that sound incongruous? Wait. Should you be even discussing death with a person who is down and out? But the Malik, whom the Ladka approaches for help, has no such compunctions. He keeps telling the Ladka to jump into a lake where crocodiles and fish will ensure that not even his bones will be found. Ironically, this near-death experience ends up teaching the Ladka a few things about life and living.

This is what Jeevan Ek Rangmanch, a play by Natya Junction, offers to the audience of Pune Natyasattak on Sunday night. Bikash Kumar Singh, who has adapted and directed the play, originally written in Konkani by Pundalik Naik, says that Jeevan Ek Rangmanch tells the timeless story of a youth, who is well-educated, but has not seen success - in relationships or professionally. “The play was translated into Hindi and performed for Akashvani. I got the script and decided that it would be worth telling the story. The script was very argumentative and counter-questioning. I kept making a few changes to the story every time we performed and it has resulted in giving the play a new perspective. It’s different from the radio play. But still, I would give credit to Naik, because the germ of the story is his,” says Singh.

The biggest change, says the director-actor, is that after playing the Ladka’s role for several years, he will be performing Malik’s character in the performance during Pune Natyasattak. “We have had several shows of Jeevan Ek...in Pune in the past. This time, we are returning after a gap of one and half years. I first played Ladka’s role when I was 21. In the play, there is a dialogue in which he says, ‘I am 26’. I am almost 30 now. I guess it was time for me to graduate to another role. Dinesh Bulani will be playing the protagonist,” he says.

Singh has had the advantage of responding to Malik in the play, and now that he will be playing Malik, will he add any new shades to the character? “The actors who have played Malik’s character earlier kept it straight. I want to bring some variation in it, make him more scary, not through his get-up but through mannerisms. I want variations in his interaction with the people who come to meet him. For instance, one Bengali character approaches him and Malik speaks in Bengali-Hindi. But then he gets a phone call and he switches his tone and that scares the boy,” he says.

Singh also has made changes to the way Hindi is spoken in the play. “The formal sombre Hindi didn’t go down well with the Marathi speaking audience here. By and by, we have corrected this and made it more colloquial and easy to understand. That apart, the story has resonated with the audience. Many students, who have seen the play, have come up and said, ‘This is my story’,” he adds. 
 
ST Reader Service
Natya Junction’s Jeevan Ek Rangmanch will be performed in Pune Natyasattak on Sunday, January 13, at Bharat Natya Mandir, at 9.30 pm

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