The nine rasas or the Navarasas were first articulated in the Natyashastra (written sometime between 200 BCE and 200 CE) and since then the nine elemental emotions have formed the core of Indian performing arts. This World Theatre Day, if you can't make it to go to a theatre space to witness a play, tune into your TV sets and watch these nine engrossing teleplays soaked in the emotions of ‘Adhbuta’ (wonder), 'Hasya’ (mirth), 'Raudra' (fury), 'Karuna' (compassion), 'Beebhatsa' (disgust), 'Bhayanaka' (horror), 'Shringara' (love), 'Shanta' (serenity), and 'Veera' (valour).
'Mammad Bhai' and 'Ek Film Katha'
Manto’s ‘Mammad Bhai’ and Harishankar Parsai's ‘Ek Film Katha’ are crafted around the emotion of ‘Adhbuta’ or wonder. Directed by Seema Pahwa, ‘Mammad Bhai’ revolves around a Robin Hood-like gangster who loses his prized dagger and moustache while ‘Ek Film Katha’ is a satirical comment on the run-of-the-mill Hindi movies of the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. The twists and turns in Mammad Bhai's life will leave the audience wonderstruck while ‘Ek Film Katha’ will also evoke surprise at the way the hackneyed story of a hero (Rakesh) saving the heroine (Ranjana) from the goons and battling the villain (Thakur Suraj Singh) unfolds. ‘Mammad Bhai’ is narrated by Vineet Kumar while Gopal Dutt narrates ‘Ek Film Katha’.
Gudiya Ki Shaadi
This Samta Sagar and Sourabh Shrivastava directorial deals with colourism and the tyranny of beauty norms in a light-hearted way that evokes ‘Hasya’ or mirth. The protagonist of the play, Gudiya (Shweta Basu Prasad) loses her eyebrows on the eve of her wedding by mistaking a hair remover for a fairness cream and this creates a furore in the family. She is unfazed by the confusion and judgment around her and continues to hold on to her self-belief with a large helping of humour, indirectly questioning patriarchal beliefs about what a woman should look like.
The emotion of 'Raudra' or rage is well explored in the play, ‘Shireen Shah’, jointly directed by Sourabh Shrivastava, Kalyani Hiwale, and Maneesh Sharma. The story is set against the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat riots and delves into the wounded psyche of the protagonist, Astha who accidentally meets her tormentor after years and is overcome by fury over what she was put through. Will Astha take revenge or forgive the man who she believes has taken away her sense of self from her? ‘Shireen Shah’ stars Dilnaz Irani, Harsh Khurana, and Joy Sengupta.
The classic Mahasweta Devi story 'Rudali' (professional mourner), explores 'Karuna' and emotions of empathy, sorrow, loss, grief and healing. Through the journey of its protagonist Sanichari, a resilient Dalit widow, 'Rudali' also highlights the stark realities of marginalised women who exist on the fringes of caste and class privilege. Directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay and Usha Ganguli, this story is about Sanichari's quest for love and dignity and indirectly reveals how little empathy or 'Karuna' we have for the invisibilized amongst us. The play stars Usha Ganguli, Yama Shroff, and Kalpana Thakur.
'Akasmat', portrays the emotion of 'Beebhatsa' or disgust and revolves around an unfaithful husband, Pratap who is having an illicit relationship with his secretary, Rashi. While driving with her on a dark rainy night, h night, he accidentally causes the death of a cyclist, who happens to be his son. Pratap’s wife Charu, unaware of this incident or her husband's extramarital affair is determined to find the murderer of her son. Will she be able to find the truth? The cast includes Shubhrajyoti Barat, Ashwini Bhave, Ipshita Chakraborty Singh, Sanjay Swaraj, Vijay Kenkre, Vibhanshu Vaibhav, and Hans Saxena.
Savita Damodar Paranjape
The supernatural thriller play, ‘Savita Damodar Paranjape', jointly directed by Swapna Waghmare Joshi and Rajan Tamhane will evoke the emotion of 'Bhayanaka' or horror in the audience. Kusum and Sharad are a childless married couple, leading a happy life until Kusum starts to develop stomach cramps and exhibit unusual symptoms. Later, it is found that she is possessed by the spirit of the couple’s common friend, Savita, who killed herself because of her unrequited love for Sharad. The play starring Shilpa Tulaskar, Vinay Jain, Aroh Welankar, and Pooja Welling.
Rahenge Sadaa Gardish Mein Taare
'Rahenge Sadaa Gardish Mein Taare' is a tribute to the Indian cinema of the 1950s and is redolent with the fragrance of ‘Shringara’ or love. The relationship drama is loosely inspired by the life of the filmmaker Guru Dutt and his wife, playback singer Geeta Dutt. The play gives audiences an insight into a deeply loving and tender relationship that turned tumultuous and toxic with time. The Saif Hyder Hasan directorial stars Sonali Kulkarni and Arif Zakaria.
This Purva Naresh directorial ends on a note of peace ( Shanta) though it begins on an uproarious note, against the backdrop of a big fat Indian wedding between Radha and her beau Siddhartha. The wedding is taking place in an ancestral haveli in the hinterlands, in true cinematic style but Radha senses some discord between her parents and her doubts about the institution of marriage begin to multiply. The play slowly reveals family secrets, explores the conflict between tradition and individual freedom and finally reaches a joyful and serene culmination. The play stars Joy Sengupta, Nidhi Singh, Siddhant Karnick, Loveleen Mishra, Harsh Khurana, Sarika Singh, Monica Gupta, Niranjan Iyengar, Mallika Singh, and Nivedita Bhargava.
Through the unvanquished spirit of its protagonist Ambika, this Sourabh Shrivastava directorial reveals to us the true meaning of 'Veera' or courage. ‘Purush’ is a mirror of Indian society, with different characters displaying diverse shades of patriarchal beliefs. However, Ambika who is a school teacher will not accept injustice in any form and refuses to see herself as the victim of a gender crime committed by a powerful politician. With her indomitable spirit and courage, she fights for justice, not only for herself but also for other suppressed women, including her mother. The play starring Ashutosh Rana, Gulki Joshi, Paromita Chatterjee, Deepak Qazir, Kranti Prakash Jha, and Neha Saraf.
These plays are streaming on Zee Theatre.