All good things come to an end, and so did the 8th Theatre Olympics at National School of Drama on 8 April. Several plays were staged and one of them was Derailed. The idea of watching a show based on a real-life story in an open lawn fascinated me and hence I was driven to join the festivities of the theatre carnival.
Plot of the Play
Think of the deadness in a man who is just breathing but is not alive in all wordly sense! William Wordsworth once had said, ‘Alone she cuts and binds the grain, and sings a melancholy strain.’ Similar is the story of a protagonist in Derailed. He repairs railway tracks to make the journey of millions easy but himself is stuck in a grim catastrophe that happened with him a few years ago. He did not reach in current circumstances by his choice but was thrown here by the political bigwigs of his college. Towards the end, he takes a revolutionary step to restore his self-esteem and to avenge the happenings of his past from those whom his sufferings were borne.
Cast, Direction and Story
The director, Devendra Ahirwar took birth in the village of Pehra in Chhatarpur district of Madhya Pradesh. He joined the Natbundele Theatre Group after graduation in Bhopal and was selected for the Madhya Pradesh School of Drama in 2011, followed by the National School of Drama in 2014. The fine nuances of Bundeli culture are visible in his direction in the form of folk-songs, dances, and interpersonal relationships. Based on the life of Vilarao Deval, the director is adeptly able to demonstrate the transition of the protagonist from a scholar, a son, a poet, and a lover into a revolutionary.
The story begins when the protagonist reminisces about his college days and shares his philosophical perspective on life in leisurely hours of a night. His companion for the day scoffs at his blabber that appears incomprehensible to him. The act then goes to a flashback where a malevolent student union leader is addressing a crowd while his protégés manhandle the young students to support him. The actor as a protagonist impersonates beautifully naivety of a student, his dreams, and his dutifulness towards his parents. The student union leader who essayed perfectly the ferociousness of a young aspiring politician also deserves a special mention. Rukmini Sircar with her subtle yet profound smiles and assertive opinions fitted perfectly in her role.
In the pursuit of becoming a learned scholar and doing something great for humble parents, the lead character meets one of the young professors in his intuition who is very impressed with his intellect and creativity. One meet makes way for another as they fall for each other subtly. The college goons eve-tease her whenever they get an opportunity. Only one day when the student union leader discovers both of them in each other’s arms, he ostracizes him from the university and rapes his love. This led him to live in the labyrinth of sorrow at his nondescript workplace.
To establish an intersection between the ethical and artistic demands, Aristotle has specified in past that the primary constituent of a tragedy is plot and not characters. The tragic hero must be neither a villain nor a virtuous man but a ‘character between these two extremes’, a man who is not eminently good and just, yet whose misfortune is brought about not by vice or depravity, but by some error or frailty. Here, the director describes beautifully the impact of a tragedy on a sensitive man who once wrote poems and now can kill anyone.