A play ‘Kafan- Kafan Chor’ by M K Raina was staged yesterday at Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts as a part of International Theatre Day celebrations. Formed in 1943, Three Arts Club is the oldest theatre group of Delhi. The play is a M. K Raina’s another step in the series of socially relevant theatre that deeply rattles the audience and familiarizes it with the forces such as war, death, and destruction that can endanger peace, and freedom of the people living in conflict zones. Two stories run in parallel in this play. The former is story of Premchand’s epic and the latter is the enactment of another story entitled Kafan Chor written by Amin Kamil.
The scenes in the play transition smoothly from one act of the former story to another. Set in backdrop of Prem Chand’s time (1880-1936), the first story exhibits the dehumanized life of a peasant and his son and their helplessness at the death of his daughter-in-law. The second story illustrates a collective struggle of Kashmiri villagers in finding out the Kafan-thief who was robbing the Kafans by exhuming the body and leaving it stark-open.
Plot of the Play
The show begins with a father and son sitting in tattered and shabby clothes. A woman in labor cries in the backdrop that unnerves the father and son. They appear to represent the poorest section of society to whom disease and death were usual. As sound of the writhing pain of woman grows, the father and son continue to be ineffective. With the least concern of the present and no worry about the future, all they wish is a life full of sluggish ease while they ate their roasted potatoes.
The second story begins with a Kashmiri mother burying the dead body of her son. She aggrieves her son’s death for several days and visits the graveyard at night until one day she discovers that someone has stolen her son’s Kafan. The mystery around Kafan–thief deepens when one day villagers discover dead bodies scattered all over the graveyard. The anger of people worsens and takes the shape of a collective fight against the chor.
The chor or the thief is the metaphorical representation of politicians and money-mongers that make the situation worse in conflict zones. There was an ambiguity surrounding the other party with whom people were engaged in combat with. However, the most powerful acts of the play were the woman carrying the corpse of her son and a soldier on her back and a dead man getting up from his grave and taking his Kafan away with him. The first act was a metaphor of a spiral of violence between the state and its people that eventually harms both sides. Towards the end, a woman riding on a wheelchair is seen with flags of various countries struck at the back of her wheelchair. It symbolized the effect of war on various countries that get involved in it while seeking peace.