Watched ‘Bhopal’ Bay Area Drama (BAD) Company‘s first production based on Rahul Varma’s play. Directed by Ravi Bhatnagar the cast include Basab Pradhan, Sindhu Singh, Kamala Subramaniam, Neha Goyal, Paul Costello, Phil Wiseman and Ravi Bhatnagar.
I don’t consider myself knowing much about theatre so my opinion is more as a mere audience member with of course a keen interest in art in any form. But theatre has fascinated me with its poetic blend when ever I have witnessed it happen.
I think watching the play in the small intimate 175-seat Lohman Theatre in the Foothill College made a big impact for me. It gave the play a briskness that as an audience I might have missed if it was in a larger less intimate theater. The play at times demanded a street play ambience to it which I think the intimate setting brilliantly satisfied.
The play is very intense and for people who have known about the Bhopal Tragedy when it happened first as a shock, then with nerve shattering sadness and then over years oscillated between forgetting and following the episode as it slowly inched its way into their consciousness will be left with an unbearable silence at the end. None of us like the torture of some questions inside us for which the answer we have is always a helpless silence. The play let us confront it in multiple ways… It forces us to look back, because some journeys ahead are dark without the light we have to borrow from the missing elements of the past.
Bhopal Tragedy is a dark episode for all of us who lived when that happened 30 years back. The whole comprehension (and even the lack of it) on how life might have survived and moved for all the people there makes it difficult for many. The fact that humanity has screamed for justice for 30 years and is still counting makes it difficult for people to cope with. There are some incidents in this world that kind of cuts through time making two sets of the same world; the post and pre eras. Bhopal was one such incident and I thank the BAD team for selecting this play as their first production and remembering everything that went wrong.
While all the cast did an amazing work I want to specifically appreciate Kamala Subranmaniam’s character as Izzat Bhai… The reason why I like that character apart from the fact that Kamala did it so well, is it is a very tough role to play. Tough because convincingly playing an Indian slum dweller’s role in English is difficult. As I said I am not a theatre expert and have not seen a lot of theatre, but I think it might have been easier doing the role in a language other than English. And I think Kamala did that role exceptionally well. All the roles other than that of Izzat Bai were of an educated person who had some connection with english and Kamala was the only character who had to convince the audience the role in a language which was also used by Warren Anderson the CEO of the corporation. That is not easy and I would like to applaud her for the same.
I have seen Basab and Sindhu perform before in ‘Party’ and I have loved them there just like here. Neha’s role as Madiha was well done as her character is the only one that really stretches between the two completely opposite emotions of the play that exist on either ends of the play, That is not easy.. and great work Neha. Also My appreciation to Phil in his role as Pascale.
Paul as Warren Anderson brings a stage presence that makes you grasp the height of power that the character sits in and the way he played it, he did it so well to show how corporate heads typically collect emotional data from the people around to convince themselves that what they do is the right thing to do.
I am seeing Ravi for the first time on stage, though I had seen him in Vermaji before. In fact I saw Vermaji before I got introduced to Ravi and was sure he had a theatre background when I saw the movie. So finally I get to see him on stage. Great work Ravi and I can understand the difficulty you would have had being a director and cast of the play at the same time.
Finally Subhapriya Srivatsan’s hypnotizing vocals at the start set the mood that carried me through the play appearing in between and at the end. It was more like transporting you through a trance for the entire period of the play. Thanks to her for the wonderful music to Habeeb tanvir’s Zahreeli Hawa’ and the rendition.
My best wishes to the entire team of BAD and the Bhopal Production. Looking forward to seeing more productions in the future. Lucky that I booked and saw it today as it is all booked for the upcoming shows