Chatting up writer-director Subhadip Raha and actor Girish Pardeshi prior to the staging of their play Hash Ersnesto Tag Guevara in the city today
Che Guevara stays alive even today. The Argentine Marxist revolutionary, who has often been called the ‘defender of the poor’ and ‘the rock-hero biker revolutionary’, ‘the martyr to idealism’ and so on, was a highly politicised and controversial figure. To bring out the true ideologies of Che, Subhadip Raha, writer and director, along with television and theatre actor Girish Pardesi, alumnus of National School of Drama, Delhi, have come up with their new play Hash Ersnesto Tag Guevara. Krishiv Creations is producing the play which will be staged in the city today.
Giving us a peek into the play, Raha says that is not Che’s biography but an effort to highlight his ideologies or the absence of it in recent times. “The play is based on the misinterpretation of his ideologies which has further been shaped by my own observations and experiences. We are trying to find out whether there is a true existence of an ideology or just a manifestation. There are also some ideologies which are struggling to find a space which means there is a crisis in the present time,” adds Raha.
He further adds that through the play he is trying to find out what would be Che’s reaction on the present socio-political scenario. “It would be interesting to know how he would react to the ideologies taking shape in contemporary times and what would he have to say about the current scenario of unrest and political instability. So in the play Che (played by Pardesi), when interviewed by Geeta Guha, starts exposing his ideological stand,” says Raha who belongs to Siliguri, West Bengal, where the Left ruled for 34 years.
Ask Raha what ideology does he believe in and he says, “Even I am not aware what is my ideology, what should I stand for or follow. If I do something in a particular fashion, people will call me Leftist or if I do the opposite, they may call me Right wing. So there is a whole lot of labelling done and in all this there is no social voice coming out.”
When asked about the relevance of Che’s ideas in recent times, Raha says, “Today, we see how Che has become a poster boy on youngsters’ t-shirts. Today, idolising someone means making them brands in the form of merchandise. We are trying to focus on the ideological crisis — whether they are absolute or there is more to explore. Now, things have changed a lot. People are more individual centric, they are concerned about their own life. Concerns are different now. Although protests are taking place, there is a lot of confusion. The slogans and speeches at universities and students’ movements somewhat create confusion in my mind.”
Pardesi says that it is very challenging to play Che as there are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding him. “It was difficult to portray such a character as we do not know many facts about him. There is a lot of mystery and misconception surrounding him — whatever study material is available is very limited. Also, as an actor you need to find out your own interpretation of the person and the character,” says Pardesi who gives credit to Raha and Guha for giving him a good understanding of Che’s ideologies.
“Those ideas helped me a lot. For the physical characterisation, the internet, video clippings, documentaries and books on Che helped me understand him better. But it’s very challenging as he has never been a very popular figure in India. There is a certain class of people who know him and whatever they know about him is very less. Che is looked upon as a revolutionary, but when it actually comes to portraying a rebel on stage it is not easy. You may idolise them but getting into his shoes is very difficult,” concludes Pardesi.