Friday, July 13, 2012

Broken Images

For those who love the work of Russian masters who delve into the conscious of the individual, or the Shakespearean art of bringing forth without warning a confronting alter ego, Girish Karnad’sBroken Images is a theatrical treat that simply cannot be missed.  

The one-act high-intensity monologue is based on an original script by Karnad in Kannada, directed by Alyque Padamsee and brought alive single-handedly by veteran actor Shabana Azmi.

The story is simple, set up against the contemporary backdrop of India’s bustling capital, New Delhi. Starting with a mild comical portrayal of a Hindi author whose first English book has become an international bestseller and made her a star overnight, the play delves deeper in the truth behind the book, the author and her life.

It moves from being a social drama to a psychological thriller as it slowly rips the mask off the celebrity writer Manjula Sharma. And so powerful is the deliberation, that even without your conscious interest or intent, you will find yourself  going through a steady yet unpredictable shift of loyalty between the two characters, Manjula and her crippled and dead younger sister, Malini, deftly portrayed by Shabana.  

The innovative treatment of the script and direction clearly demarcates Padamsee’s style of doing things differently. Conventionally, Malini would have been a background voice or a shadow in the dark.

The use of a pre-recorded act to bring Malini alive on stage was the stroke of a genius, and the Shabana on screen, with her theatrics, taunts, and brilliant sense of timing delivered the intended punch just as much as the one who flawlessly played the character live on stage without a stammer or a prompt. What was most striking was that the sync between the two was never lost.

If you are a lover of contemporary theatre, and if Shabana and Alyque are in town, you wouldn’t miss the next show!

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