I saw “Joke” at Prithvi theatres. This is my third Makarand Deshpande play after “Poha Gone Wrong” and “Miss Beautiful”. I have written on “Poha…” and I didn’t find anything interesting to catch on “Miss Beautiful” accept Miss Beautiful herself – Ahlam Khan. But “Joke” is worth a mention.
I like the treatment which Makarand Deshpande gives to all his plays. He mixes serious and comedy very well. He never lets the atmosphere grow too heavy. He puts in humour at junctures. This intermingling goes down well with the audience. The audience loves conflicts, the more the better. But a grim act, if stretched long, causes strain. And it’s difficult to maintain a sad rhythm. A wisecrack releases the pressure, creates a pivot and helps the story forward.
I have also seen a play which was tragic from beginning to end and most of the audience came out teary eyes. Here the women are better equipped. I could see them take out their kerchiefs and wipe there tears. I was so embarrassed to take out mine that I left the tears to dry on my cheeks. More on this another time!
“Joke” is a story of a man (also a woman) who wants to take “God” out of their life. He wonders why God should be so important. All good that happens is attributed to Him and all bad has to be us. Also, instead of festivals and celebrations all that we find everywhere is propaganda. Donations are taken in the name of God but wasted on self-promotion. Religion which is personal is masquerading as a world view and ends in a riot.
“We need new problems” – says a dialogue in the play. One is tired with old, over used and repetitive problems. Like properties, same problems are getting passed on across generations. And these problems are created out of opinions. Like genes which hold our baldness; the same is with opinions. We seem to inherit the Opinions of our ilk. And also behave the same.
Our society handles us like “service packages”. You can imagine a society with a big container holding “certified” opinions. Each member holds assorted attributes from that container. The convention is that you can have different views, but none should be from outside the container. You conform or you risk reform. Reform stands for all the “social-work” society has to do to get you back into that container.
There is a popular saying – Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I can’t say much about angles. But if you desire to see Fools rushing in – Just proclaim a different opinion. A Fool will appear promptly to tell how wrong you are. He doesn’t care what you hold. His reactions are “containerized” – so to say.
Understandings are very tacit. Almost everyone knows what’s right or wrong. Ask a smoker. Resistance does not stop us from breaking free. Actually, we cannot break free. We are conditioned. Do you think our brain only hold memory! Wrong. Our muscles also hold memory. Our hands! Ask any drunkard – How his Legs hold memory! Call me. And your body starts learning before your mind. Observe your kid.
“Joke” is not a joke. It’s thoughtful. It takes digs. It touches your nerve and releases it promptly. It knows you cannot take in too much. It’s like a fat man bending to touch his toe. A tap is enough for him for the time being. It gets the message across.