Theatre Review: Just Assassins


I was itching to write a review as the play Just Assassins came to an end. As I reach home and settle down, popping words on a screen, how did I miss reading this book by the French writer Albert Camus ? The Outsider was an all time favorite at school. The Hindi adaptation of the play is beautiful;complete writing. The play like life brings two choices before you into bare existence. More and more credit goes to the dead writer [Albert Camus], who has created these voices. They came alive, with the efforts of the director Girish Pardeshi.

Sukhen is a loyal member of the Inqalaab Party. He is sneaking around Sudarshan Rangmanch in a cape before the play has started. There is a palpable-terror-afloat at the venue. With a mix of courage, sacrifice, love and nihilism.

Omkar and Devika are making a bomb in the opening scene of the play. A raw tension prevails and they are chatting who's going to throw the bomb at the governor. Omkar's a level headed member of Inqalaab party among others. He stares out of the window for the governor's carriage. A pronounced sound of a carriage [juggi] moving fills the ears. [The music in the play feels eternal as the hills.]

Vimi played by (emotional, raw, guilt-ridden Roshan Singh) takes the task to throw the first bomb. He doesn't do so. He sees two heads and the governess also in the carriage. He would have thrown the bomb even then. But the innocent children are looking straight ahead and not at him. He would have thrown the bomb if they were looking at him; this is his logic. This puts him in a guilt trip.

Sukhen is like a loyal leader in the group. He cannot accept the fact that many children would die, now that they have not thrown the bomb. He calls the kids of the governor as "bitches". This leads to the famous dilemmas that Camus creates, that of an existential decision. There is no morality and the morality has to be discussed and a working morality to be decided upon. Because, we are still human, all too human. In a nihilism of ideas and values, can you go all out to achieve your aim ?Or there should be a limit to it ? The play brings forth this dilemma. Added to the existential import, there is a charm about Sudarshan Rangmanch. You put a frame and a character can look out of it and create distance. How, Binurial audio creates distance for music, Sudarshan does that for physical space. Omkar created a vivid picture by looking out of the window, carriage, telling people to run around.

Sukhen (Prashant Singh) was a formidable presence on stage, a strong character, unmissable. His anger sank into your head all the while he was on stage. Vimi played by Roshan was a complex character .Vimi had a strong presence but coated with his complexities. Quite a difficult character to portray and well executed. In the prison scene, another prisoner [Fazal] is licking, taking the lice off him. What a terrific semblance of contradictory emotions! The characterization of Fazal and the chief took you to the prison-rawness. A revolutionary has a rough, raw life; the prison another rote-kind of rawness of Indian prison. Such bubonic emotions and scenes in one play!Devika still emitted kind of warmth being the love of Vimi. An active member of the revolutionary tribe. Vivan provided some light moments. The governor's wife kind of took me to old ladies in some of Samuel Beckett plays. Just Asassins directed by Girish Pardeshi has a balanced texture of story. Lights were there when needed by Pradip Nikam. I wouldn't say there was an indulgence of lights. The audience enjoyed the show!

Quite a directorial debut for Girish!

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