The play uses the narrative story telling format by alluding to scenes witnessed by Gandhi’s contemporaries. Projecting documentary clips of Gandhi’s real life on background screen while enacting scenes on stage comes across in perfect harmony.
It’s always challenging to script a stage play on Gandhi’s life as plethora of plays, movies and manuscripts have left the subject saturated. Though Pehla Satyagrahi projects itself in portraying Gandhi’s evolution, the play has usual enactment of scenes from Gandhi’s first experiments of satyagraha in South Africa, famous train incident (Pietermaritzburg), Champaran’s indigo agitation with farmers, salt satyagraha, quit India, partition, Noakhali communal peace campaign and final shoot down by Godse. Surprisingly, Sardar Patel and Nehru interactions and involvements are missing.
Elaborating motives behind three monkey motifs is a novelty. So is the fingerprinting of all ten fingers in South Africa and is instant identification connect with what immigrants to America and Europe are subjected to these days of terror threats. India is doing that to its citizens under Aadhar in addition to iris identification but for noble reasons.
Play’s deja vu feel isn’t surprising. The acting prowess of main character (Raju Roy) adds freshness to the role despite many actors essaying that role in the past. The scenes of Noakhali and Salt March are enacted well. The particular scene of Gandhi’s decision to adopt country’s poor dress code touches a chord.
The difference in singing of Vande Mataram as self-respecting tool against colonial power and current aggressive assertion of nationalism comes through clearly.
The play uses the narrative story telling format by alluding to scenes witnessed by Gandhi’s contemporaries. Projecting documentary clips of Gandhi’s real life on background screen while enacting scenes on stage comes across in perfect harmony. Interestingly, the play experiments with slight infusion of modern events entering the old events.
The set design is kept simple in keeping with story and the man. The props of charkha and wrist watch are used well.
The actor (Raju Roy) has enacted the gait and manners of Gandhi rather well. The dialogue with inner Gandhi is also done well. The message of treating Harijans as equal, emphasis on cleanliness, simplicity is aptly conveyed.
Director Suresh Sharma interpretation of Gandhi on stage is appreciable.