Rasatal – a Hindi version of the classic play, ‘The Lower Depths’ written by Russian writer Maxim Gorky, directed by Gaurav Chaturvedi was performed at Play Box, the ‘Prithvi-like’ auditorium (With real bats flying over the stage) of MSU – Department of Performing Arts, Vadodara.
Played to perfection, each actor made his/her presence felt, especially the actor, Ranganath Gopalratham playing the old man, Luka (A brilliant actor with immense command over diction and pitch of his voice) and Aparna Menon essaying the role of Vassilisa, who was brilliant with her nuanced histrionics. The ensemble of these 18 actors including Mehul Suru (Cop), Veer Singh (Actor), Mamta Pandya (Anna), Simant Rana (Nawab), Mitresh Bhavsar (Small boy), Omer Shah (Makhally), Purthvish Metha (Klech), Raj Chaudhary (Bobnoff) to name a few, indeed deserve an applause.
The original play has been source of inspiration for many filmmakers like Akira Kurosawa and closer home, Chetan Anand who directed Neecha Ghar, which Palme d’Or (Best Film Award), at the first Cannes Film Festival in 1946, becoming the first Indian independent film to get international recognition.
The only problem with Rasatal is that the play has been translated, rather than trans-created for an audience (really less, mostly comprising students of the Performing Arts Dept.), who would have loved to behold an Indian adaptation, perhaps on the lines of Neecha Nagar. This might have been able to connect with the audience in a much effective manner.
Nevertheless, the performance of this wonderful ensemble of actors ensure that you are sucked into the world they create and familiarize yourself with each character, which is precisely what writer Maxim Gorky set out for – to create a character-based play rather than plot-driven one.
Kudos to the entire team of Rastal, especially director Gaurav Chaturvedi. This young chap, student of Theatre Director, Jay Merchant, has indeed come a long way and is sure to go places! We would love to see your Indian adaptation of ‘The lower depths’ someday.