Although Eashwar Mime Company centres on a group of mime actors, many of us are familiar with abusive, tyrannical owners who subject their employees to psychological and sexual violence.
Based on a short story, Mukhabhinaya by Dibyendu Palit, the film brings together an ensemble crew of theatre director Shyamanand Jalan, playwright Vijay Tendulkar and painter Rameshwar Broota, who has donned the hat of a film designer.
"This was the only film that Jalan made (he passed away a few months ago). He invested a lot in each aspect of the production," says the artist, best known for his Man series of paintings.
Affirms actor Ashish Vidyarthi, who has played the exploitative but brilliant owner: "Although most of the cast had worked in theatre with Jalan, he ensured that we got training in mime at a workshop where celebrated kathakali exponent Govindan Kutty taught us the nuances of the dance form."
Chitrarth, a struggling author (Pawan Malhotra), is invited by an enigmatic showman (Vidyarthi) to join his mime company. His city-bred sensibilities are repelled by the primal world that opens up. He is shocked by the way the master treats the mime players. But he realises Eashwar is a lonely, hard drinking man genuinely passionate about his art.
The mime players bear everything with a disturbing resilience covering themselves with a silence that even Chitrarth can't penetrate.
And then the catharsis begins. Incited by the merciless beating up of a fellow actor, the troupe members seek revenge in a highly stylised climax.
August 2, 7 pm, India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road