The incompleteness that envelopes our lives, our relations, our desires, our aspirations on the failure of our dreams and hopes make the situations and circumstances claustrophobic for us to live in. Everyday bickering, nagging and cat-fights over the incompleteness in our personal and social space drives us against the wall. The more we expect from life, the less we get. this very thought has been beautifully portrayed in the famous play ‘ Aadhe – Adhure’ which was staged recently in Delhi. Mohan Rakesh’s famous labour of love, which speaks volumes about conflicts, ambiguities in relations, can be called something that other playwright’s can only dream of and the play has always been every theatre director’s desire to bring on stage. The play is a story about Savitri, a middle-aged working woman dissatisfied with her circumstances- an unemployed son, a promiscuous teenaged daughter, and above all a husband who has failed to provide her emotional and financial security. And, how she feels claustrophobic in a relation with her desires and dreams crumbling like a castle of cards in front of her eyes, making her want to escape all this.
Though, written four decades back, the theme of the play still seems very contemporary. “ The play attempts to understand the very purpose of life. Every one of us is seeking and searching for true happiness. The play speaks out about the vacuum of both men & women where they feel that they are still incomplete i. e. Adhe-Adhure even after passing many years of their life. The agony of a middle class woman caught in the shackles of societal pressure and responsibilities was brought forth beautifully by Rawat, making everyone empathize with the character. The incompleteness which screams through the dialogues, the silence, and the circumstances make the perfect setting for the play. It makes the audience understand the very basis of a relation that perfection can’t be achieved and it’s the incompleteness that you must learn to cherish. “ It’s important to understand that no one is complete. We all are always looking for something in someone. And this quest for a perfect man or woman can never end. But the truth is that it’s our perception that makes someone imperfect and incomplete.
Rakesh’s protagonist Savitri is a victim of an urban dysfunctional family of the late sixties but her trials and tribulations are timeless, albeit some of them may have assumed new forms with time. Following her husband’s financial ruin and the incapability to fulfil even the commonplace desires of her life, she’s drawn to other men in the course of her forced employment. The pull appears to be partly inadvertent and partly intentional. We are never sure whether it’s solely for the family cause or it also has shades of personal gratification as well. Rakesh keeps the audience pondering.
His play also stands out for the unbiased quality of its feminist stance. In unfolding the trauma of Savitri’s life, the story steers clear of overruling perceptions and is highly sensitive to the standpoints of Savitri’s dependents and detractors as well – notably, her meek, loser husband Mahendranath (Dr. Mohan Aagshe), mutinous but crestfallen eldest daughter (Ira Dubey), disillusioned and downcast son (Rajeev Siddhartha) and the youngest teenage daughter (Anushcka Sawhney) turning more dishevelled in the light of the dubious reality around her. While Savitri bears the brunt of the family torment, every member is confronting a vacuum emanating from respective failed dreams and flawed decisions.
Savitri’s despondency (Dubey herself in the lead role) comes alive on stage as it should, save for few fleeting moments where the story seems to lose some of its momentum. Despite her inherent highbrow image, she depicts Savitri’s working class mannerisms, successfully if not effortlessly. But the essence of Mohan Rakesh’s radical geo-modernism (away from the popular but constrained notions of modernism and post-modernism) unfolds chiefly through the superb performance of veteran Dr. Agashe in multiple roles. The psychiatrist in him must have relished the potent case study of family dysfunction that this play unleashes in lyrical form. And Dubey shows remarkable ingenuity in letting him drive the principal message – first as the casual narrator at the very beginning who sets the uncertainty and impermanence of his character as the underlying context for the play and finally as the well meaning family friend Juneja, the only common link between Savitri and Mahendranath, who exposes the dark side of Savitri’s angst while acknowledging the depth of her anguish, only to pave the way for what could possibly reunite husband and wife in a cocoon of measured compromise. That the frail Mahendranath returns home in the concluding scene is no proof of this negotiation, yet it leaves the audience with some wishful cues.
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