At the inauguration program of the annual Bharat Rang Mahotsav at Kamani auditorium, the theatre was jam-packed when the Marathi play Awagha Rang Ekachi Zaala by Ashol Samel began. However, as the play progressed, those standing in the audience gradually found themselves a seat, as crowds started thinning. Nearly all deserters had the same excuse — being unable to comprehend the language.
Gabo Arora, a visitor from New York, left half an hour into the performance, as he could not understand what the actors were saying. “If it was in Hindi, I would still be able to follow it. But Marathi makes it impossible,” he said.
“I have been to several such international festivals. The recent one was in Bogota. But all the plays in different languages would contain super-titles. I wonder why it cannot be done here.”
Similarly, Julian Jain, a German architect, found the play “difficult to follow”.
“I read the summary before watching the play. It kind of helped to understand the gist. But I feel that more than language in a play you go for performance, rather than context. A lot of humour and nuances also get lost in translation. As for me, it was tougher to follow, as I do not understand the culture.”
Actor Manish Misra found super-titles unnecessary. “If you watch carefully, the storyline comes,” he said. The sentiment was shared by Anant Panshikar, the play’s producer, who said, “Art has no language or culture.”
Nevertheless, Amal Allana, chairperson of National School of Drama, said, “While we realize that super-titles are a good idea, it is a huge exercise to undertake. We are not attempting it at the moment, as it is quite a complicated task.”