“Doosra” – Review by Arunachalam Viswanathan
DOOSRA — A sweetly timed Straight drive
It is but natural, when one goes to watch a new creation of a director/playwright, to go by the benchmark set by the previous production.
Having seen Thanimai it was justified to go high on expectations to Doosra- the story of cricket. That the expectations were not belied speaks volumes of the potential of the creator as well as the implementers. If Thanimai brought in positive energy in the form of the widowed septuagenarian, Doosra, dealing with a more populist subject, had the audience rapt for around 2 hours.
To stage a subject which is eaten, drunk and lived in this part of the world, the author had to tread a cautious path and indulge in lot of research to present it to the erudite audience. That the impact was created, once again, underscores the tight script of the play.
What appealed most was the narration itself. Right from the self talk by cricket in the opening shot till the end, the model adopted was indeed innovative. Most of the scenes comprised of just 2 of the characters on stage with one of them delivering a lengthy monologue. The powerful script coupled with the histrionic ability of one and all carried such scenes to new levels ensuring that it was not a harangue.
The constraints in finance for the passionate stage operators notwithstanding, one has to laud the attempt of the technical staff to create sets for such real match situations.
The play begins with a considerate father who is anguished that the fate which befell on him while playing the game, does not happen to his beloved son. He moves every coin to ensure that his son represents the game in the highest of the levels. Initially sluggish, Delhi Ganesh plays this part to perfection and reaches a crescendo in the scene where he chides his son for not walking when he knew he was out. That elders still don’t compromise on ethos to meet ends is depicted with panache by the veteran.
The other doyen of the stage, Kathadi Ramamurthy, was at ease portraying the role of the BCCI chief and the Minister for Sports. Adding a local flavor to his delivery, Kathadi walked away with the scenes where he was present. The point that the game is strangled by the draconian hold of such non-cricketing administrators is highlighted in the scene where the minister confronts the chairman of selectors on the non performance of the Indian team.
Anand Raghav, the director/ author, as the chairman of selectors, donning the greasepaint for the first time(maybe) was quite comfortable in his anglicized account of the cricketing events than even his attire.
The aficionado turned bitter critic reflects the mood of the spectators who pay to see their heroes fight tooth and nail in every game. A commendable cameo indeed.
The captain Arjun revels in the post match drinking outburst which reiterates the fact that cricketers are scapegoats and pawns in the hands of a powerful lobby.
The cricketer, Ganesh Vishwanathan, who plays well within himself throughout the play, rose to the occasion whenever the role demanded his acting skills. Neither he nor the audience was comfortable with the lengthy ad shoot which could have been done away with but for depicting the nexus between the cricketing and the tinsel world. That was probably the only time when the audience was having a look at their timepieces.
The last nail in the coffin of the game was showcased with the advent of 20-20 format with the corporate tycoons hobnobbing with the non- cricketing think tank of the fraternity and convincing them into adopting the final recipe for the decay of the values of the gentleman’s game.
The last scene where the business magnate elucidates the nuances of match fixing was a feather in the cap of the actor.
That the game gets its requisite quota of oxygen from being played in the streets by innocent, passionate and uninhibited folks of all age groups is the moot point of the play.
The credit goes to the director in driving this point, a motherhood statement in itself, in a stageplay with purpose and a lot of clarity.
Must watch for all involved in the game (active and passive).
Arunachalam Viswanathan,46 is a freelance consultant for a medical device company dealing with implants for interventions in the brain. He is an ardent cricket fan and supporting his father in running an amateur cricket club for the last 30 years. This review is an outlet for his passion for writing.