Dahana : A Relationship Story

A man woman relationship is never a simple one. It has many layers and many forms; Infatuation, crush, love, lust, platonic, affection, friends with benefits, live-in, married etc., shifting from one to other and getting back to the same stage after some time. So it is easier to experience the turmoil and bliss of a relation rather than understanding and analysing it in detail. Yet senior actor and writer S N Sethuram, in his short stories and plays, has unveiled a plethora of facets of this complex volatile bonding. Dahana is one among them. Most of his stories are filled with staunch punchy wityy monologues and dialogues that make them easily adaptable to stage. So it was natural for Dahana, a conundrum of emotions between a female fan and a celebrity male to follow the suit.

The plot opens up with a phone call from, an old fan, Akshatha, who has read writer HBR’s latest story on an issueless woman. Akshatha, who is also issueless, had adopted a boy few years back. Reading this story, she opens up with the writer and intends to share her pent up feelings of unsatisfactory marriage. In this process widower HBR ends up in her house when she is alone. Repeated visits to her place rekindle his long forgotten desires to have a partner. That he has crossed sixty and she is still young doesn’t occur to his mind. After gathering enough courage and

discussions with his two daughters, who stay abroad, HBR decides to propose Akshatha. And the plot takes a u-turn when she calls him “father.” Yes the plot could have had got filmy just a couple of minutes before this point of the story. Instead, after a few minutes, it thickens with Akshatha saying “will wait in the bedroom.” Not before virtually thumping him and his personality to the ground. This sudden turn of events happens after she comes to know about her husband snooping around their

house when they are alone keeping the front door ajar.

Whether HBR was right in desiring a lady who was in emotional doldrums? Did Akshatha rekindle his desires? Perhaps it’s a two-way traffic. No smoke without fire, you can’t clap in one hand and all clichés surface. But here it is very clear that Akshatha is using HBR as a punch bag, to unburden herself from the feelings of her longings towards a heavily toiling young, energetic and physically fit construction worker who she sees through the window every day.

SN Sethuram, quite popular as one of the best gender sensitive writers, cleverly knits a balanced story in accordance to each and every audience. If you are a male hater, you can easily hate HBR. If you are a female hater you can easily hate Akshatha. If you don’t hate anybody, well their number is less and most of them are definitely superior to sages, one can still enjoy the comedy of “emotional” errors. It does boost the ego of both the genders. Argumentative view points placed in front of the

audience appear to be right from each character’s perspective. Everybody tries to uphold his or her moral ground and keep it intact. 

For, his characters, in this play, don’t cross physical borders and all hara kiri happens within the borders of mind. Hence it is inevitable to have lengthy monologues with a rhythm and pause of typical Sethuram type. That might be the reason why actor  director Raghavendra Naik, who played HBR, almost appeared to be one more Sethuram on the stage. Other than adapting this play, writing dialogues for it with the latter might have influenced the actor-director a lot. The success of this play lies in dialogues and it also restricts the efficient space utilisation of the stage. To make it visually enriching it needs a different structural engineering approach where you dissect the story into many scenes; refit them with same dialogues, add a few without altering the original tone and again make it a quintessential Sethuram play.

Because, it is one of the best ways to imbibe giggles and chuckles among the audience; to unwind them, loosen them up and make them receptive to the righteous message. Irony is, most often the point ends up halfway. Morality of people is neither high in the darkness of a theatre nor in the broad day light. Yes the play definitely sharpens the knowledge that a writer is not what he writes. And we people are not what we speak. So it is natural for us to enjoy the words on stage. They are our own, which we often keep it to ourselves. Cause it’s the question of behavioural morality, right?

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