Arts & Culture

Art: a review of Ramjas’ latest theatre offering

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Three friends, one painting. Where will this go? Adapted from Yasmin Reza’s Art, Shunya presents its annual production with a little twist.

Set in New Delhi with three female protagonists. Art is one of the three annual award winning productions from Shunya, The Ramjas Dramatics Society.
An adaptation of Yasmin Reza’s Art, Shunya’s adaptation changes all the protagonists to females.
In its synopsis, Art explores the question of if a painting can destroy years of friendship.

The play begins with music from old Hindi films playing from a radio. The four characters in the play are seen shuffling across the stage as the lights fade in and fade out. They are seen arranging, and then re-arranging tables and chairs.

The audience then meets their first character Shweta (played by Vaishnavi Rai) who has just bought a new painting, except the painting is a blank canvas.

The second lead, Mitali (played by Ayushi Kumar) now enters and is seen enquiring about the price of the painting and its absurdity. Soon, the audience is introduced to the third lead, Yukti (played by Raniya Zulaikha, also the funniest of all characters)
The play progresses with the three protagonists, the question of the absurd price of the absurd painting and the strain between the three friends still hangs in the air.

The play is minimalistic in nature with few props which are used interchangeably. The play explores female friendships and gives interesting insights of female friendships with examples of jealousy, power dynamics, intimacy issues etc. The visible strain in friendships and bitterness reflects on stage. The play has been directed by Sushant Nagpal. Interestingly, the male gaze seeps into the play in fragments. Women aren’t objectified but the changes in their relationship occur after their romantic involvements with men.
The fourth character (played by Ravi Yadav) who remains unnamed appears in a few scenes, never with the three leads is rather comical. His only job is to arrange and re-arrange the props and occasionally steal some food.

As the play progresses, it brings forth the issue of internalised misogyny which is rooted in internalised shame, patriarchy and sexism.
An overarching theme in the play is the question of perseverance and longevity of friendships in times of conflict.

The play manages to be hilarious, thanks to Zulaikha’s character (Yukti) with her one-liners, the best one being “Go read Chanakyaneeti”. The characters add balance to the play with Mitali’s seriousness and Shweta’s playfulness.

Overall, there is never a dull moment in the play. The characters, stories, props are constantly moving and engaging with the audience.

Image Credits: Shunya: The Dramatics Society of Ramjas College

Jaishree Kumar
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