Sunday, December 15, 2013

Final solutions: Zaahir productions

Mahesh Dattani, the script-writer of Final solutions aptly said: ‘This is something I wrote a decade ago. Sadly, it is relevant even today’. Dattani refers to the communal tension between the two religious sects. With such a theme, you do expect a certain degree of emotions and the characters ought to have depth. Surprisingly, the actors surpassed all our expectations.

To give a background, final solutions elaborates a night where two muslim boys seek shelter in a Hindu family in midst of a communal tension. Since I am no critique, the best I can do is summarise the performance of the characters.
Photo: and yes. we are back again!  Final Solutions this time at  IIT Gandhinagar. 11th Jan. Thank you Sneha Ved, Rita Kotahri and Mahesh Dattani
The mother (Aruna) started as a run of the mill traditional housewife, with her beliefs at times skirting fanaticism. As the story progressed, she embarrasses many with her extremism. Such feelings were reinstated with her efforts to distance every pure object of the house from the muslim boys. It is only when she takes a stand to justify her beliefs, walk us through her upbringing to show us how faith helped her find happiness; that you can connect with her. The way her belief eradicate our perception of religious fanaticism truly proves her performance.

The grandmother is a tough one to understand. It takes a while to come to terms with the two era she portrays: for she morphs from a sulking, stooping relic to a chirpy teenager recently wedded to a aristocratic family. The stark differences of the two eras seem comical for a while. But it is in the final act that the chirpy grandma faces that event which changes her life.

Babban says he's changed to Bobby just for the heck of it. An educated youth looking to march ahead in life, it seems the chains of religion and tradition mean little to him. For rationality and realism is what Bobby stands for. Or so it seems. You can so imagine that he would have given up that beacon highlighting his religion (his name) with a 'whatever' attitude. He often takes a step back, to be reasonable, to compromise. A slap from the radicals, the taunts by the fanatic housewife and grandmother left unheard, protecting his brother-in-law to be for all his misgivings: all this makes you wonder if Bobby is weak. Maybe because the absence of his pillar of faith, maybe for his conviction to stay away from trouble or perhaps of  his forever ready to compromise attitude. All the while Bobby does turn out to be weak, submitting himself to rationality without a word. But only until the final act. When all is said, Bobby does blurt it out. He is Bobby not because he doesn't care about Babban, but because it is not possible for Babban to survive in this callous environment. He has seen a lot more of this world than it seems and has learned to survive with the everyday barbs. Finally, he has to prove it. He does the unimaginable- embracing the God of the hosting family, talking to him and elaborating to his hosts what his act is about. Babban, in my opinion is the most powerful character of the play. Possibly because of the way he is underplayed for most of the time and his true strength is not revealed until the end.

Smita- the teenage daughter of the house comes out as the girl next door caught between the traditional upbringing of her mother and the open views of her father. The true vigour of her character, like Bobby, is not revealed until the end. For it turns out that she is siding neither of her parents' views; she is driven by her own righteousness. Her righteousness comes from her own views of whatever she's seen of the world.

The role of Javed was perhaps the most vital piece in Final Solutions. The fact that he's a dangai-a hired goon is revealed a lot later. Portraying this character is perhaps the toughest (with due respect to granny). In accordance with human nature, every viewer hates him at the first instant. He's blunt, devilish, full of himself and seems to be devoid of any feelings whatsoever. He is consumed by his own beliefs and refuses to lend an ear to any ideology but his. However, Babban wonderfully describes his circumstances, justifies his actions and one wonders why he ought to waste his energy on someone who is so obviously lost. It is this description by Babban along with Javed's evolution of emotions is what steals the show. Why we understand his sins, how that hatred makes way for pity- you have to witness Zaahir's final solutions to understand.

Ramnik, the trader, husband, father, son and breadwinner of the family strikes as an idealist that this world needs. He is ready to take a tough stand against his wife and mother provide shelter to the two muslin boys being chased to death by the mob. His arguments with Javed are deep. Like Bobby, you wonder why he’s wasting time trying to reason with the lost soul.

One would assume the crowd ought to comprise of fillers. However in Zaahir's Final Solutions, it played the most vital role in expressing human emotions, outbursts, vehemence and fanaticism.

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