When democracy goes astray

‘Josephine Radio’, Jayachandran Thakazhikkaran’s solo play, is a critique of the present times

Published: 18th September 2017 10:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2017 07:16 AM   |  A+A-

The play ‘Josephine Radio’ being staged

Express News Service

KOCHI:Joseph, a framer from rural Kerala, lives in his personal bubble. The placenta that connects him to the world is a radio, its varying frequencies taking him through an assorted spectrum. They share a unique camaraderie, ‘like two lovers’ as he puts it. He browses through events and incidents, engages in heated dialogues, smiles, sings and even dances with its broadcasts. But one day his only link to the world outside gets ruptured, leaving Joseph bereft and isolated. Josephine Radio, Jayachandran Thakazhikkaran’s solo play, explores the situation of a man whose all lines of communication fray. His life in limbo, he walks through the thick sugarcane fields in search of a mechanic. “Here the radio stands for democracy, the  journey indicates rebellion and his wail points towards a brewing riot,” says Jayachandran.

Josephinte Radio has the arena format where the audience sit surrounding the platform. At one point Joseph ventures into the crowd while the voice of his wife booms loud, warning him about the razor-sharp leaves of his crop. “Getting out in search of a mechanic means a precarious trip through the farm. But Joseph says he can’t sit at home all afraid when his radio has gone silent,” he says. He finds a mechanic finally who disappears with the radio asking him to wait for five minutes. “Now we see Joseph who has been waiting for last five years. During this period he asks some unsettling questions which eventually gets him branded as a Maoist,” he adds.

Joseph says the ink mark on your forefinger is his radio and he has a right to know what happened to it. Next he transforms into the mechanic who reveals that it’s not his radio but the station that has gone inept. Here the playwright creates a startling analogue when the mechanic states he is planning to visit some foreign countries to study  about radio stations and their functioning. “After so many years of waiting he is left with the same old situation and an agitated Joseph denounces his religion as well. He doesn’t want a God who can’t save him, but it’s not an attempt to question Christianity. The lines are spoken by a disillusioned individual coming out of all religious confines,” he adds. The play also examines the political correctness of a spate of things including news. “Joseph thinks news is like a wild animal hunted by a pack of tigers. Once they get to it they eat all the flesh and leave the bones for others,” he says.

Towards the concluding portion of the play Joseph once again changes his identity, this time to a slightly feminine persona. He asks the people to start meditation with their eyes closed and concentrate on their breathing pattern. He advises them to neglect the sounds of screams, gunshots and slogans and imagine an idyllic surrounding. But Joseph breaks free from this powerless trance and urges the audience to protect democracy and its values. “He asks them to open all their senses and react,” he adds.       

Jayachandran has been staging Josephinte Radio for the last 15 years but he says the play gains new dimensions each time. “There has been small alterations springing from the change in socio-political situations. Democracy in 2002 and 2017 and two different things and I have tried to sharpen my presentation accordingly. On each stage it creates a new experience in connection with the current scenario. You can watch it multiple times without feeling any monotony,” he says. The play was staged at Vyloppilli Samskriti Bhavan last week.


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