Agnipankh, a fiery play about politics, power and love | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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Agnipankh, a fiery play about politics, power and love

Meeta Vasisht, who plays a bold Brahmin in the years after Independence, says the play represents all the things missing in today’s theatre.

art and culture Updated: Mar 25, 2017 08:21 IST
Madhusree Ghosh
Agnipankh is set in politically turbulent India of 1948. It tells a tale of Durgeshwari or Baisaab, a Brahmin matriarch whose life goes topsy-turvy when Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated by a Maratha Brahmin.
Agnipankh is set in politically turbulent India of 1948. It tells a tale of Durgeshwari or Baisaab, a Brahmin matriarch whose life goes topsy-turvy when Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated by a Maratha Brahmin.

Agnipankh, which debuts this weekend, promises fire, heat and some good old-fashioned burns.

The Hindi play is set in politically turbulent India of 1948. It tells a tale of Durgeshwari or Baisaab, a Brahmin matriarch with a tight hold on her zamindari household despite complicated relationships with her children and alcoholic husband. Then, Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated by a Maratha Brahmin and her world goes topsy-turvy.

Meeta Vasisht plays Baisaab, and director Ganesh Yadav likens her character to a chess player’s.

Ganesh Yadav, Agnipankh’s director, says he chose the play because 69 years after it was set (and 31 years after it was written for the Marathi stage by Prabhakar Laxman Mayekar), so many of its themes remain relevant. Sure, there’s a tight script and great lines, but there’s also “the tension between Brahmins and Dalits, complexities in familial relationships and women empowerment,” he says. “At the same time, it is so commercial that it won’t fail to entertain.”

Meeta Vasisht plays Baisaab, and Yadav likens her character to a chess player’s. “All her moves are well-planned, but will surprise.” For Vasisht, however, the play represents all the things missing in today’s theatre. “We are picking countries like Norway, Vietnam or Iran and talking about their issues or adapting American or English plays,” she says. “We hardly ever engage with our own history, country, and issues. That’s what makes Agnipankh different.”

Weaving through the politics is a love story between Baisaab and her husband, Raosaab. “They have this love-hate relationship which gives the play yet another layer,” says Yadav.

Art director, Ajit Dandekar, recreated a whole Marathi wada on stage.

It’s an old-fashioned tale in more ways than one. Minimalist set design, so typical of modern plays is being abandoned in favour of full costumery and lush sets. Art director, Ajit Dandekar, recreated a whole Marathi wada on stage. Still, says Vasisht, it’s the story that will shine through. “I hope that those who watch the play will carry it back with them, think about every character and feel that they could have become a part of the time they come from.”

What:Agnipankh
Where:
Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir, off Linking Road, Bandra
When:
Saturday, 7:30 pm
Cost:
Ticket prices from Rs 300. Available on BookMyShow.com