Posts Tagged Ekta Brahmkshatri

The Pillowman: Play Review at Naatak

The Pillowman written in 2003, by Martin McDonagh, regarded among critics as one of the the great dark comedies of all time, is directed for @Naatak in English, by Harish Agastya and is produced for Naatak by Soumya Agastya. Harish Agastya is a brilliant director and he has simultaneously directed two versions of the play, with two parallel casts.   I saw cast 1. 

The play centers around Katuria in flashback as a young boy and now a young man (Abhi Wadekar and Kartic Bhargav), a fiction writer, living in an authoritarian regime. As the play starts, Katuria is being interrogated by two detectives, Topaki (Ekta Brahmkshatri) and Arial (M Zishan). Katuria’s younger brother Mikaal (Ankit Dhingra) is being held in an adjoining cell, accused of a few murders including of a little girl (Ayesha Javehrani). For all it’s darkness of the plot and gruesome imagination, The Pillowman is a Pulitzer prize winning drama and has also received various other awards.

Katuria is accused of writing gruesome stories depicting grim scenarios that include tortuous violence upon children. The very fiction that Katuria is immensely proud of and would like to survive even at the cost of his own life is said to inspire others to imitate and carry out the grim actions. Katuria is unflinching from his one true objective that his work must outlive him. He says, “It isn’t about being or not being dead, it’s about what you leave behind” Amidst the tension, there are some jokes and funny lines delivered expertly by the incredible cast. 

This play explores a complex relationship between one’s upbringing and how it impacts one’s  work of art and enables the artist to receive a measure of recognition. On the other hand, the play also explores the impact of the artist’s work on his readers and on the audience of the play itself. The emotional journey the play encourages the audience to take is at the very least, compelling, in terms of the emotional distress it causes as well as “what ifs” and “who deserves blame” scenarios the play compels us to introspect on. Do artists deserve blame for encouraging others to engage in horrific acts or can they be absolved of crimes that they only imagined or penned and where does one draw the line?

I can’t help but share here my personal point of view since I feel very strongly on the subject. At a time when book banning has become a controversial and important issue in several states in the USA, my personal view is that we must NEVER ban books or movies or drama or social media or works of art, on account of the impact it may have. Instead society must enable people to become more informed and savvy consumers such that people can put nonsense out of business. And I will add, instead, society needs to #BanAssaultWeapons so no one ACTS insane, if they’re not better informed and in the end, punish people to fit the crime. 

One final note on the character of Katuria’s brother, Mikaal. Despite Mikaal’s inability to fully comprehend the severity of the situation, his simple mind was fully aware that love conquers all other challenges. He loved his brother deeply and willingly accepted lifetime of torture for himself or others so that his brother would become the greatest writer he hoped to become. All the depth and complexity that Katuria struggled to convey in his writings, his brother conveyed in his one simple action that subsequently looks more complex in the light of his later actions .

The play is running at Starbright theater in Campbell till May 7, 2023.. For tickets go to .

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

“Rumors” by Naatak – Play Review

I was not expecting a great deal from NAATAK company’s most recent on stage production of Neil Simon’s “Rumors”. After all, farce is one of the most challenging genres to perform. A farce is a comedy in which everything is absolutely absurd and usually involves some kind of deception or miscommunication. People are not forgiving when it comes to laughter and lame comedy tragically falls short in generating laughs. Add to that the challenging part of translating humor into another language and culture. The play is in Hinglish with supertitles in clear English projected on top of the stage.


However, my worry was unfounded. This performance is by NAATAK and in every show NAATAK meets the challenge head-on and delivers the best. In Rumors, five couples invited to celebrate a sixth couple’s anniversary, find that the host has shot himself, hostess is missing, servants are nowhere to be seen and the dinner isn’t prepared. What ensues is a brilliantly interwoven performance of farcical missteps, outlandish lies, and dialogs so hilariously delivered that you will be in stitches, in no time. 


Image may contain: 10 people, possible text that says 'SUN 2/23: SOLD OUT SAT 2/22: SOLD OUT FRI 2/21: LAST FEW RUMORS I Feb 21 Mar 1 I naatak.ora'

First, there is an exceptional cast of actors with Kamala Subramananian, Chaitnya Godsay, Ekta Brahmkshatri, Ritwik Verma, Anjali Bhide, Natraj Kumar, Roshni Datta, Chanpreet Singh, Bruce Blau, and Deanna Shinsky.  There are also ubiquitous Chakra and Meera, the host and the hostess who never quite make an appearance but drive the events from the shadows.


Image may contain: 2 people

The title of this play (given by original playwright) is well suited for Naatak’s performance, adapted to Indian socialites. While on one hand, well meaning friends are driven to protect the scandal of the day (details of it are not yet fully known to them) and on the other hand, there is equally well intentioned and cultural proclivity to share about the scandal (to find and lend support), and to fill holes in the missing details.


The dialogs are nothing short of brilliant. Here’s how it goes between two people at the party,
“She has a thing you know”.
“What sort of a thing”?
“She is doing something with somebody, somewhere”.

There is also sarcasm in hinglish. Here’s one dialog.

“I am melting”.
“So are the planets. But that we can manage.
Aap ki mange
Environment ke aage.”

Kudos to Director and translator of the original script, Naatak’s marvelous, Harish Agastya. Everything comes together brilliantly in “Rumors”, with witty script in Hinglish, plethora of underhand comments, sarcasm, complex storyline, unbelievably nutty sequence of events, ridiculous cover-up and dynamic fabrications, events that unfold in slapstick manner, neurotic cast of characters who successfully deliver ingeniously funny moments,
elegant costumes that indicate high socialite status of Silicon Valley’s Indian socialites and exceptional staging, sound and light. This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season for all theatergoers in Silicon Valley. Naatak has 5 more shows and is running till March 1, at the Cubberley Community Theater in Palo Alto. There are few tickets left for some shows. Tickets can be obtained at .

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: