On December 15, 1969, Giuseppe Pinelli, a railway worker in Milan, Italy, fell to his death from the fourth floor of a police station. He was in custody regarding a bombing three days earlier in Milan. This was a time when police corruption was a raging debate in Italy. Pinelli’s death sparked the revolution further: two factions came up in society – those who believed he committed suicide; and those who thought he was thrown from the window, as an act of aggression by the police.
The incident inspired playwright Dario Fo’s dark comedy. Accidental Death of an Anarchist premiered forty six years ago, in 1970, in Italy. And it won Fo the Nobel Prize for literature in 1997.
“I read the original as a study in theatre. But when cases of police aggression and trials that follow became common in newspapers here, I decided to adapt the story,” says Vipul Mahagaonkar, a playwright and theatre director. The Marathi adaptation is called Khidki (window) and will open in Mumbai on August 7.
Mahagaonkar’s first step was to speak with those he knew in the Mumbai Police, to get a better understanding of the criminal justice system. “Since the play is set in an interrogation room, I spoke to the police regarding the proceedings of a detention. The Indian Penal Code allows the police to make an arrest on mere suspicion. But they often face backlash for it because police interrogations can be brutal in nature,” says Mahagaonkar.
The play progresses through the re-enactment of the events that led to an anarchist falling out of a window. An open-ended play, the audience gets to decide the real cause behind the anarchist’s death. And in the process, Khidki discusses the quandary policemen usually find themselves in: caught between the public criticism, and the necessity of containing the crime rate by any means necessary.
“I have used real incidents that are relatable to the audiences in Mumbai. I have referenced the 2012 Azad Maidan riots, and the police brutality that ensued. It’s ironic that the violent incident took place as a symbol of resistance against the ongoing police brutality in Assam at the time. I am also thinking of adding references to the violence by the army in Kashmir,” says Mahagaonkar.
Don’t miss: Khidki will open on August 7, at 4pm.
At: Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Call: 3989 5050
Tickets: Rs 300 onward, on bookmyshow.com/plays