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Expect The Unexpected

Tuesday, November 07, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

It’s only fitting that Makarand Deshpande’s new play opens at the Prithvi Theatre Festival. The playwright, director, actor, producer has been a regular at the Juhu theatre and has said in many interviews that he considers Prithvi Theatre his home.

Over the years, his abstract, whimsical and very experimental plays have found an audience at the theatre, so he seldom feels the need to go out of the space; though he has been traveling a bit with his plays, and also trying to make them more accessible in terms of plot and language. Very few of his plays have long runs, still actors line up to work with him, because he is always capable of shocking the actor and bringing out facets they kept buried because nobody made extra demands on them.

With his latest play Spot On (in Marathi and Hindi), he returns to the style of writing and directing that not only baffles his audience, but also entertains and provokes them.

In this play, Deshpande plays a scientist, who, for some strange reason is giving an audition, reading out lines written by someone else, while an unseen operator controls a wandering spotlight that shines, dims or switches on at will. The scientist says what he feels like, and at the end of the monologue, he is gunned down. (We live in times when free speech and a scientific temperament are suspect). The bullets do not manage to kill, but paralyze him, so that his speech is distorted and he limps along with a walking stick.

In the first half, through monologues by his alcoholic son Bhaskar (Aseem Hattangadi), his harried daughter Aditi (Aakanksha Gade) and asthamatic wife (Samidha Guru), one learns how that incident has affected the family. In the second, the family comes together to try and resolve their problems.

There is no plot as such, but through the characters, Deshpande has commented on the many issues that are affecting the country today, and amidst the ramblings, there are lines of startling beauty or power. If one says it is vintage Makarand Deshpande, his audiences will know just what to expect; or rather, what not to expect!

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