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A scrutiny of human capacity to be cruel

Madhur Tankha

Hindi adaptation of Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden" to be staged on April 29, 30

NEW DELHI: A play titled "Night Song" featuring young National School of Drama alumni will be staged at Sri Ram Centre here on April 29 and 30.

Brought to the Capital by the National Theatre Workers Alliance, the play is Maneesh Verma's Hindi adaptation of Ariel Dorfman's "Death and the Maiden". It has been designed and directed by Kalyani Hilwale.

The play opens in the home of a married couple staying in an anonymous city in Western India. Abhay, played by Maneesh Verma, and Komal Chatterjee, played by Manjushree Kulkarni, are portraying the couple.

Abhay is a reputed civil rights activist and has just been appointed head of the human rights commission that will look into cases of death in communal violence. Komal, however, is not happy with the idea.

Fate delivers a surprise visitor into Komal's lap. Dr. Avishkar Pandey -- played by Harsh Khurana -- is a doctor who gives Abhay a ride home one rainy night. Avishkar is impressed with Abhay's work and takes the opportunity to praise him when invited for a drink.

Komal hears his voice from the next room and is convinced that Avishkar's past and hers are linked.

She charges him with crimes that he committed ten years ago. The trial is held that evening in their own home. Finally, the truth is unveiled.

Maneesh Verma has adapted the original play, "Death and the Maiden", in the context of Gujarat's communal violence. "Night Song" plays at two levels. On one level it is a gripping suspense machine, while on the other it is a no-holds-barred scrutiny of the human capacity to be cruel.

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