Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Directed by Suraj Parasnis, Davikadun Chauthi Building leads you on a voyeuristic journey

Before technology became intrusive, taking on the role of the Peeping Tom, there were the neighbourhood gossip kakus (aunties), who had their ears all perked up at the goings-on. They made it their business to find out what’s happening in the next flat, or in the flat above them. 

Watching Davikadun Chauthi Building gives you this kaku-cum-Peeping Tom feeling. You suddenly become privy to the lives, conflicts, secrets and emotional insecurities of people living in four apartments, and willingly or unwillingly are drawn into their lives, comparing your life and emotional graph with them. 

A Theatron Entertainment and Theatre Academy production, Davikadun Chauthi Building sucks you in from the word go. Directed by Suraj Parasnis and written by four writers — Manaswini Lata Ravindra, Omkar Gokhale, Abhiram Joshi, and Virajas Kulkarni — the lives led by the residents in the Marathi play are not totally unknown to us, the audience. What the stories do, however, is that they offer us the whole 4D images of the people living in each of the four flats. 

One story is of two girls (played by Kaumudi Walokar and Deeksha Ketkar), who are packing up to move into a new flat. Only they haven’t been able to rent a new place. Their interaction escalates and then dips, making them bitter, resigned and angry in turn. Leaving behind your hometown isn’t always easy, more so in these times when any day you can be axed from your job. Their fears lurk in the shadows. 

In the next house, a kitty party or bhishi as we call it in Pune, is in full swing and as it typically happens, grievances are aired, angry words are hurled at each other. There is a live in couple staying in the flat above the two girls and opposite them is a guy, a vlogger, who has just moved in and is taking his followers on a tour of his home. He is hosting ‘ask me anything’ round and well, the questions aren’t always kind. 

What binds the four houses is the interplay of light and shadow, technology and intimacy. The former plays an important role in Davikadun Chauthi Building — the fears and insecurities lurk in the shadows and the light shines as a moment of epiphany for the residents.

The interaction between the characters is crisp and funny, especially between the girl (Shivani Rangole) and her boyfriend (Shubhankar Ekbote) and another friend (Virajas Kulkarni), also their confusion over feelings, marriage and settling down.

The story of the family (Nikhil Majumdar, Priya Nerlekar, Vandana Gargate, Gayatri Deshpande, Saurabh Sathe, Himanshu Pile, Mukta Soman, Atharva Soundankar) too gets it right for most part, almost like you are watching your own family wallowing in anger and self-pity. 

The life of the vlogger (Shivraj Waichal - brilliant) is as monotonous and manufactured as the lives of most social media influencers are. The constant beep of the incoming notifications on his YouTube channel keeps the proceedings real. 

The confluence of light and sound and the crisp writing make this play worth a watch.

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