|“Bhanwar” staged by the volunteers of Jamghat made friends by talking of the homeless. P. ANIMA|
LAUGH TO THINK A scene from “Bhanwar”.
Slapstick comedy with a message. “Bhanwar”, a Hindi play staged by the volunteers of Jamghat – a non-government organisation, had a full-house in splits all the while.
But they also managed to poignantly highlight the issues of homelessness, unemployment, crime and safety.
Jamghat works with the street children in Jama Masjid and Hanuman Mandir areas. The organisation has often used theatre as an effective means to create awareness about pertinent issues.
It was no different this week at the India Habitat Centre, where the volunteers, basically college students, staged “Bhanwar.”
The mood for the evening was set by the music band Jigri. The youngsters sang couple of popular numbers from the film “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi”, apart from a folk song from Himachal Pradesh and another from their first album. The zest of the young band was quite remarkable.
A weak sound system saw them keeping the mikes aside and singing without any acoustic aid, a rarity these days. Their voice did scatter at times, but they made it up with their extraordinary energy.
Feel of the place
“Bhanwar” opened by a giving a feel of Jama Masjid and the neighbourhood. Scenes changed swiftly – people in prayer pave way to portray a bustling “gali”– the “maalishwallah” along with other jobless men ogling at women and lost youngsters busy smoking pot.
“The play will have loads of humour otherwise hardly anyone would sit to watch the serious message,” said the anchor introducing the play. And “Bhanwar” kept the promise.
There were hardly any lax moments and an enthusiastic audience egged the actors on.
The 20 actors, students from the North and South campus, chipped in with their best and often got the local lingo, accent and body language right. In an effort to elicit laughter, the actors at times banked on exaggerated body language, but their spirit saw them sailing through.
“Bhanwar”, directed by Amit Sinha captures the way of life down the winding alleys of Jama Masjid. It starts off with a search for the thief Anwar which triggers a series of hilarious moments. There are stock characters though, Iqbal Chacha, the forgetful old man who firmly believes in the caste hierarchy, “maalishwallah” – the chief comic element in the play and envious women trying to get the better of their neighbour.
Smart Anwar manages to fool the residents and even lives in the alley as the “maulavi” before the police gets there in search of him. “Bhanwar” changes tempo to assume a serious tone as the moment of realisation dawns on Anwar, he marries the young rape victim and finds his role among the street children.
Despite the comic overtures, the play managed to communicate the “issues” well.
That included the rootlessness of migrants and their vulnerability, the apathy of the local people and also the homelessness of street children.
Adil Khan was convincing as the aging Iqbal and Deepak who doubled up as the “maalishwallah” and constable Ganpath kept the audience in good spirits. Three street children were also part of the play.
The lighting was adequate and the setting remained bare minimum. With the sound system not in place, a few dialogues were lost the din of wailing children.
It would have done the play good if it had not ran for an hour and 15 minutes. A little pruning would not have tampered its flow.
The entry was not ticketed as the purpose to “create awareness.” “Bhanwar” managed to do that though the actors were not professionals and the entertainment was a bonus.