Bleeding hearts across divided borders

Violently jolted with the news of partition, Darshan Singh could not feel his feet anymore. They are numb with shock.

Published: 24th June 2018 08:10 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th June 2018 08:10 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Violently jolted with the news of partition, Darshan Singh could not feel his feet anymore. They are numb with shock. The angst is too much for his shoulders to bare, but strength mustn’t be lost to this moment. One slip in calculating the escape could mean a lifetime of regret. Raavi Paar is a play based on the catastrophe of 1947—the Partition of India. Darshan Singh, the protagonist, doesn’t have much time to think. He must flee before they come fetching for his life. Flee, not just for his life, but also his honour.

The play is an adaptation of poet Gulzar’s eponymous story of the Partition. “It’s a trail of haunting memories which echoes with voice of two nations. People like Darshan Singh were one among the thousands of migrants who were forced to leave their land compelled by and circumstances,” says Ashtam Neelkanth, the mentor of the play.

He is also the workshop Director for Taaleem, students of which are participating in the play. The story has been given a musical score to bring out the poignancy of the time through the medium of sound.
How stability and security Singh once enjoyed was savagely snatched from him, is weaved through the sound track that makes the screenplay ripe with desolation and despair. On the one hand his father dies and his mother looses herself in the ruins of a Gurudwara, and one the other, Shahni, his wife, gives birth to twins—two sons. Should he celebrate or mourn? Singh feels a deadening sensation running through his spine but he lives on… not as alive as he once used to be.

It’s paramount for a portrayal such as this that actors internalise the episodes of violence, the uncertainty, bouts of trepidation, feeling of helplessness and looming fear, that made the Partition the deadliest cataclysm of its time. “To make students understand a time from which they are absolutely detached was a humongous challenge. To bring conviction in their demeanour was tough but we did it,” says.

In the last 11 years of mentoring different age groups, Neelkanth has seen things change dramatically. Actors have fundamentally changed, according to him. They aren’t process oriented but product oriented. They don’t want to master an exercise by doing it over and over again, but are looking for instant gratification. “I understand that this energy keeps one on their toes but it also becomes difficult to deal with people who are largely mesmerised by the glory of the goal,” he says. The awareness, on the other hand, that this generation brings, is praise worthy, he says. That they are not afraid of taking risks is another USP.

At a personal level too, mentoring has enriched his vision of what he expects from students. Belief and support has been a majour learning. Acting, for Neelkanth is about making peace with one’s vulnerabilities. Only if an actor is defenceless and learns to surrender to the director, having full faith in him, can s(he) discover themselves fully, he believes. Through Taaleem, that Vayam Performing Arts Society is presenting, that’s exactly what the workshop’s Directors Amit Tiwari and Rahul Saini are aspiring for.

Decoding complex characters in an attempt to study human psychology,  it follows a curriculum that hones observation, body rhythm, gestures, among other things. In addition to acting, one learns clowning, Bharatnatyam, Chhau, yoga and more. “It’s about creating self-believing, independent theatre learners who use the medium to support their aspirations and find ways of sowing seeds of change for the future,” says Neelkanth.

Raavi Paar: June 30, at 7 pm, Lok Kala Manch, Lodhi Institutional Area. Tickets: `150 and `200 are available at Watch and share: Viewers are requested to bring toys, stationary, utensils, bags, clothes, books  and other such items for the underprivileged.


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