300px Vijay Tendulkar Ilham: Revelations or Remissions?
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By Sunil Kumar

We are close to the sixty-fifth year of the republic; in five minutes, I’ll be there. Forget the rest of the nation. I sit in Prithvi theatre, eat Tiramisu, read the Bhagavad Gita. Profundity is beyond me; but always at my side. The theatre is tucked away in Janki Kutir, part of Juhu, the semi-posh, laidback representative of India’s crassest and sometimes interesting city of Mumbai.

Destiny; according to some people is chance, karma, the meeting of minds. Or plain short orgasms. Maybe the BMW-driving, cigarette smoking dude at the entrance will agree. I am a consummate mixture; spiritual yearnings and material grievances. Understanding somebody else is beyond me; but I try to find a reason.

Prithvi is a small place; compared to London. It is a shame we only have very few theatres in the city, compared to the avid traditions of England. Probably, we know that all the world’s a stage; without really pondering over it.

I have come here to watch “Ilham”; the word means intuition or inspiration. Plays are supposed to be visual poetry; or plain regurgitation of India’s monstrous ills; our caste system; mythology, hypocrisy or the great survival story. Ilham is about madness or discovery.

It’s written by Manav Kaul, who’s penned Shakkar Ke Panch Daane, Shabd Sangit et al. He has also adapted and directed Sartre’s No Exit into Hindi as Antaheen as well as Vijay Tendulkar’s Ashi Pakhare Yeti into Kannada. So, now for the play.

It’s dark in the hall and the lights are switched off. A rotund gentleman comes along; performing strange gestures. They exemplify a search; some of my comic friends may disagree; it could remind them of something more terrestrial. The play deals with the meaning of existence; as perceived by what the world regards as a madman.

The play is philosophical, does not deal with our usual concerns; India’s more prescient evils; something all of us know a lot about; diversity finding unity; or coherence in dysfunction; the life story of love, or was it the gravity of obscenity. The acting is realistic; the actors are believable. Some conversations like the ones in the play do take place.

The man can hear the sound of the chirping bird; the dumb beggar speaking and has conversations with an illusory chacha. Some of the elements are supposed to be metaphysical; idioms that can be appreciated in a society that is aesthetic, free and open. Our republic despite its numerous failings still has many aces up its sleeve. It is a convenient melting point, trod upon, malleable ,sometimes reactive and aggressive.

I liked the elements of the play that try to find something beyond the confines of humdrum existence. Maybe, the whole act is set in a pristine reality, an India that existed thirty years back; now transforming into an urban maze of instant noodle marketing. Human civilization; art, science, commerce and wanton destruction. A million realities merging into one. Imaginary homelands.Death is often instant.

There are metaphors in the play; touching on the other side, landscapes of the mind. Till then, it’s late, adios. More to come.


(Happy Independence Day, India!)

 Ilham: Revelations or Remissions?
 Ilham: Revelations or Remissions?
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