Review of Zee theatre play Agnipank which had its first show at Bai Gandharva Natya mandir.

Review of Zee theatre play Agnipank which had its first show at Bai Gandharva Natya mandir.

Agnipankh is a historical drama set in newly independent India with the winds of change sweeping across the country. Durgeshwari or ‘Baisaab’ as she is reverently called is a wealthy Brahmin.
– via Zee Theatre

Govind Nihalani, Mita Vashist, Praveen Nischol

Govind Nihalani’s Comment Below

I thought Manoj’s review of Agnipankh could have been a little more enlightening… may be some more to explain the nature of conflict betwee the Agrarian and Industrial mindsets …. like what did Bai Saheb want as against what did her husband wished ?

Any way, it’s just a thought.

My response to Saturday’s performance of Agnipankh is that I very much liked the period detailing of the set and the lighting. The background music helped maintain the mood and the pace of drama. Mita Vasishth’s gorgeous period costumes imparted an edge to her characterisation of Bai Saheb. She played Bai Saheb with tremendous grace and authority. Satyajit Sharma as the husband provided a very well nuanced characterisation to Rao Saheb. However, in the over all sense, one felt, the play could have had done with some sharper in-depth exploration of the conflict.

Praveen Nischol’s Comment Below

I had a very good evening watching the production of Agnipankh in which a lot of hardwork has gone in every department.
The performances were very good for a first show and am sure will improve as they go on. Casting was very apt with Mita Vashisht and Satyajit Sharma giving excellent performances and I would like to specially mention Somesh Agarwal in the servant’s role as he came out so real in his passive symbol of subordination. The pace sometimes slows down as the characters in the original writing do not grow or transform (that being the essence of the drama), yet it keeps you involved and engrossed. All credit to director Ganesh.

My Review below

People relate to the plays in various ways. We try to engage with the drama with our perspective and create a sense of subjectivity around the theme. For me Agnipank was about the clash of civilizations where the old agrarian mindset clashes against the progressive industrial mindset.
The old agrarian mindset is represented by Bai Saheb played by protagonist Mita Vashist (who is not educated in the western system) while the Industrial mindset that forms the rest of the cast. They are mostly educated in the western system.

The play also is an analysis on the Burden of Responsibility –
The person who is responsible for the finances is often compelled to be very disciplinarian and conduct himself in a manner, which isn’t popular and sometimes seems rather cunning and regressive.

I found only two characters in the play very interesting. One was Bai Saheb, and the second were her husband Rao Saheb played by the veteran actor Satyajit Sharma, who has a huge stage presence because of his height and also because of his talents.

The character Rao Saheb is a lover of art, which automatically categorises him into the drunkard/gambler/womanizer and irresponsible character. It is quite possible that during the time, the play is set in it meant that the man who was a lover of art had such negative connotations.

For me, Rao Saheb is a product of the Industrial mindset ( he is well-educated and can speak French and English fluently). Precisely this mindset of his is no match for Bai Saheb, who is from the feudal, caste superiority mindset. It seems they were a match made to clash. He looks down at his wife’s ideology but enjoys the prosperity the same ideology has brought to his life, which supports his arty lifestyle.

No one can fight an idea whose time has come. The old feudal world has to face defeat, and it takes a character as strong as Bai Saheb to personify and signify the demise of such an old world (idea).

I loved the character sketches made by playwright Mayekar. There was no contradiction or ambiguity, and It was easy to see why the characters behave and act as they do. I think this is for me, the most brilliant thing from the play, other than the theme, which is about the clash of civilisations.

The entire cast was splendid even though this was the very first show of theirs. The star of the show as portrayed in the promotion poster is indeed Mita Vashist. She is the stiff upper lipped Brahmin lady from Pune, and her art and efforts are visible in this nuanced portrayal of Bai Saheb.

After a standing ovation from the audience, director Ganesh Yadav felicitated the playwright by asking Govind Nihalani to give a bouquet to the playwright Mayekar’s daughter.

Mita then spoke on how it was wonderful to work with the entire cast and crew and appreciated the support and initiative of Zee Theatre in supporting the play. She said its very important for people to have spaces to celebrate together and having a corporate benefactor makes this a lot easier

Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) is set to foray into theatre production with the launch of ‘Zee Theatre’. This new content vertical will partner with renowned playwrights and theatre stalwarts to produce over 100 plays over the next three years. The initiative will make theatrical content available on multiple platforms, including online, on-air, on-ground and in-transit for audiences to consume attheir convenience.
– via

In its new avatar, Bal Gandharva Rang Mandir boasts of a 740-seater auditorium, with two special boxes on either side of the balcony, designed by a Singapore-based architect. “We have fitted this auditorium with the latest lighting and sound equipment. A closed auditorium is a better fit for this city, its monsoon and a location like Bandra. This way, there is better acoustics and neighbours will not complain of the noise, unlike with an open-air theatre,” says architect Mahinder Chande, chief executive officer of K Raheja and in-charge of this redevelopment.
– via mid-day