Pankaj Kapur’s quest for Sehar and Nisha

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A full auditorium indicates what is to follow and so was the case on Friday evening at Ravindra Bharathi. The ongoing Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Festival had been host to some brilliant plays and performances, upping their game with every show. Friday evening saw no less.

Two names – Pankaj Kapur and Supriya Pathak – enough to pull audiences to the venue, were the leads in Theatron’s Dreamz: Sehar. Written and directed by Pankaj Kapur, this was the first of the many plays in the Dreamz series.

Set in the upper and lower mall of Kasauli, the only two places in the hill station, as mentioned by many characters in the play, a woman (Sehar) desperately searching for her sister (Nisha) meets Professor Sanjay Mishra.

While the professor is intrigued by the beautiful description Sehar gives of Nisha, no local in Kasauli has ever seen a girl who fits this description. Merging the lines between dreams and reality was the aim of the playwright and in the introduction itself, he manages to onstage and offstage interactions.

For a traditional play, the stage space and auditorium was well used for the scenes. The actors weren’t confined to one place, but had all the freedom to move around onstage, in the aisle and through the front rows. It was innovative enough to keep the audience guessing from where the characters are going to pop out next.

Subtlety is the key here. The soft voice of Pankaj, Supriya and other characters, only raised if the situation demanded, showed that this performance was far away from over-the-top antics.

The 3Cs – calm, composed and confident – seemed like the motto of the play.

Without giving away spoilers, watch out for the ‘ever-so-haunting’ station master, newspaper stand guy and the house help of the Ivy Lodge. They are definite high-points in the comedy aspect. In the end, the audience wants to pick up from where the first installment leaves them and are eagerly waiting for the sequel like the gripping episodes of the web series.