Sandhya Chhaya, a Hindi play, staged in Dubai made us wonder if individual ambition and family love can live together in one space
It’s an old tale, rather a dark, depressing one. The tale of old parents left behind in an empty home, for the children have flown away to a land with greener grass. Yet, each time it is brought alive in an art form, it touches a chord. Perhaps, because many of us, expats in Dubai, too have fled home for a bigger, better life. In this race of growth, how often do we think about our parents? A question that a production by Mandali Dubai put forward as they staged Marathi playwright Jaywant Dalvi’s Sandhya Chhaya (when translated from Hindi means sunset) on Saturday evening at Consulate General Of India, Dubai.
I have to confess I love old couple and I secretly observe them at malls, in restaurants. I watch them look after each other and express affection in a way that the young are incapable of. So, for me, Nana (Digvijay Singh) and Nani (Svetlanna Meshra), the protagonists, were a pleasure to watch. They had fun as they bickered; the actors did excellent jobs in bringing alive a relationship that spoke of years of love and understanding. The duo’s performance left many in the audience moist-eyed. The narrator, Fakeer (also the director of the play, Arif Bhaldar), left us with words to ponder upon: Of soldiers, who sacrifice their lives to keep us safe. Of changes in lifestyle, which weakens family bonds. And more.
As the couple waits for their two young sons to return (one is in the Army and the other works in the USA), they find little joys in life by interacting with strangers – say a wrong number on the phone (powerful performances by Anushka Mirchandani and Rahul Kumar), which rarely rings. Or an individual (an extremely composed act by the (Siddharth Gollapudi), who accidently walks into the house, which sees no visitors. Ramu, the couple’s servant (Jai Pravin Soni), peppered the play with his fun, zero-dialogue act. Perhaps, the character of Bijuriya, Ramu’s wife, was unwarranted in this space of emotions and themes. Not every performance needs masala.
During the course of the play, the couple loses their younger son. And we get to watch a father take pride in the son’s sacrifice for the country. The bad news brings their elder son to the country, after eight years. Whilst the parents hope, they’d be able to convince him to move back and live with them, the visit results in a clash between ambitions of the young and expectations of the old. The son (a convincing act by Hitesh Sukhnani) decides to leave. With nothing left to look forward to in life, the couple commits suicide. Overall, the show reflected the team’s hard work and passion for the craft.
Cut! Cut! Cut! What does one take home from this tale? Is it fair for the young to ask of the old to leave their lives behind and adapt to new routines in new lands? Aren’t sunsets of life and otherwise supposed to be beautiful? Can’t we find a balance between aspirations and responsibilities? Perhaps, we can. As the director urged in the end, and I quote: If anything about this tale touched a chord with you, call your parents now and tell them you love them!
Here’s to creating beautiful sunsets for our elders and great theatre performances in the city.