Timeout - When terror strikes
by Jamuna Rangachari
A Personal War – A series of monologues on the Mumbai terror attack; Organised At: NCPA Auditorium, Mumbai; Directed by: Divya Palat; Cast: Divya Palat, Aditya Hitkari,
Vivan Bathena, Anu Menon, Khushboo Hitkari, Sanket Mhatre and Vatsala Kothari
The three days starting from November 26, 2008, are etched deeply in the mind and heart of every citizen of Mumbai. There is no way anyone can remain untouched and unmoved by the very mention of 26/11. But one person who poured her anguish on to paper to express her personal outrage on stage is Divya Palat. With well scripted roles, she has brought out how much impact it has had on the entire psyche of Mumbai and indeed, the entire world.
Anu Menon plays the invasive TV journalist Smita Prasad communicating the over enthusiasm of the TV reporters vying with competitive channels to grab the largest number of eyeballs, that received such flak from the public, and her personal dilemma in the modus operandi dictated by their bosses. Vivan Bathena is the hospitality trainee epitomising the service-before-self sacrifices of the hotel staff who is finally gunned-down by the terrorists while protecting his clients. Khushboo Hitkari is the empty-headed celebrity Saloni preening before the cameras making vacuous statements. Aditya Hitkari plays the lawyer, Harshad Mehta, who accompanies his businessman father to the Oberoi for dinner, and survives because he is buried under a heap of bodies that fall over him during the shoot-out. Sanket Mhatre plays the shy college student, Vicky, who reluctantly accompanies some friends to the Leopold Café because a girl he has a crush on is also going along. But she is killed before he can confess his love for her. Vatsala Kothari is the Gujarati Meeta Patel from Vapi, the VT shootout survivor who arrived at VT to fulfil a long-cherished dream to visit Mumbai and Bollywood. Divya Palat, the director of the play, essays the role of the devastated young woman from Pune who describes the horrific events through a flood of tears while talking to her mother on the phone.
The heart-wrenching truth and tragedy is interspersed with humour, but the gravity and seriousness leaves no one untouched, and all the characters have essayed their roles well.
The play premiered at Kala Ghoda and has now been ranked number one by BBC News at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Surely, one hopes it reaches all over the world as the issues it addresses are universal.