(My previous post is review of the play in Gujarati)
Bravo! Bravo! What an incredible performance by the cast of Silver Jubilee, a play written by Gujarat’s most renowned writer, Kajal Oza Vaidya and directed by Viral Rachh. In addition to Vaidhya and Rachh, the cast included, Hiren Patel, Jay Vithalani, and Aarti Malkan. The play was brought to the bay area, courtesy of AAA Entertainments (www.aaaentertainments.com) with Jagruti Shah, in association with Radio Zindagi.
If we consider contemporary Gujarati writers, Vaidya’s name is at the top. In a short span of 7 years, she has written 45 books, numerous articles in all Gujarati newspapers, and several TV serials. Her TV serial, Eak dal na pankhi, has had over 1600 episodes. Four of her books have been translated into English and other languages. But it is not the quantity of her writing, but rather the quality of her writing (and now acting) that is like a breadth of fresh air. She tells the story and challenges of young generation with such suave and sophistication that it has made many young people switch off the computer or a TV and pick up a book, and that too, a book in native language!
Silver Jubilee is an oft-repeated story, with centuries old dialogues that occur between many a young men and many a young women. While the story is nothing new, Vaidhya has done such justice in telling the story that it touches the heart, makes you cry, and makes you laugh with abundance. You have seen these scenes played out in your life, your sister’s or brother’s or aunt’s or a friend’s life, but you have not stopped to consider it from the outside, from a third party perspective.
This is a story of a sort of an arranged marriage between Param Patel, a traditional man with simple ambitions and Priya, an educated, western, and sophisticated young woman, who is tired of rejecting many prospective bridegrooms, and at once likes and accepts Param. They both try to learn to adjust to each other. Priya focuses her attention on keeping the home neat, organized, and clean, sometimes driving Param crazy, who questions, “what happened to the educated young girl”? He tries to explain to Priya that a neat and tidy home feels like a hotel, and not a home. They fight, they make up and they profess deep and undying love. At one time, they promise each other that no matter what the circumstances, if they are alive then they will share their Silver Jubilee together.
Then tragedy strikes and as Priya deals with her grief, she recedes into a cocoon of privacy, where she does not feel vulnerable. In an attempt to shield herself from pain, she looses herself in her career and her charity work. She wants kindness, compassion, and understanding from Param but rejects any overtures that she at once interprets to be sympathy and sees as condescending. Param feels helpless. He expresses his frustration to his friend by saying, you can’t live with women, only love them; and love is exhilarating like climbing a wall but marriage is like jumping off from there. Their fights intensify over small things, sadness grows, distance between them increases, and eventually Priya leaves to pursue her career in the US. She tells Param that instead of focusing on repairing what he sees as broken, he should get a replacement. But neither of them take any concrete steps towards the divorce, as the flame of love between them continues to burn.
What will Priya and Param do on their Silver Jubilee? Irrespective of the curiosity, the answer is not as important as the broad question, are women and men fated to live in perpetual and interesting disharmony? The play certainly makes us wish that harmony is never restored. Perhaps, insightful artists like Vaidhya and Rachh will continue to explore this age old phenomena and provide entertainment that makes us laugh and cry at the same time, shake our heads in disbelief and nod our heads in understanding at the same time.