‘Khamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai’ indicts a male-dominated society

A scene from the play ‘Khamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai’. -Excelsior/Rakesh
A scene from the play ‘Khamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai’. -Excelsior/Rakesh

Lalit Gupta

JAMMU, Jan 9: Gurmeet Jamwal’s ten-minute soliloquy voicing protagonist Miss Benare’s indictment of male-dominated society emerged as one of the high watermarks of the ongoing annual theatre festival organized by J&K Cultural Academy, at Abhinav Theater, here today.
Regarded as a milestone in the history of Indian Theatre, ‘Khamosh Adalat Jari Hai’, an adaptation of Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi play, directed by Vijay Goswami, was staged by Pancham Society for Art, Culture.
Structurally, a drama-within-the-drama, the play written in the 1960s, has immense social relevance as the cruelty against women, especially single women, still continues, irrespective of caste or colour or creed.
The play opens in a room in which a group of performers who rope in a local man Samant to play the character when a cast-member does not turn up. An improvised, free-flowing ‘rehearsal’ is arranged and a mock trial is staged to make him understand the court procedures. The mock charge of infanticide leveled against Miss Benare, another cast-member and a school teacher is soon reduced into a personal attack on Miss Benare — whose affair with a married professor  (not present there), is ridiculed, and her out-of-wedlock pregnancy condemned.  A mirthful and witty Miss Benare is reduced to tears as she is castigated for not following community’s conventions.
In the lead role of Miss Benare Bai, Gurmeet Jamwal showing acting prowess and great control glided with admirable ease from her initial playful appearance to the wounded soul of her character as the secrets of her life are revealed. Especially impressive was the heartfelt intensity of her soliloquy in the climactic scene. Soham as Ponkshe, Vijay Goswami as Kashikar, the judge, Muklini Sethi as frivolous Mrs Kashikar, Manoj Bhat as Sukhatme, the lawyer, Susheel Raina as the naïve Samant, Rishab Sharma as Karnik and Ravinder Manhas as Rokde-all gave quality performances.
The light design and the background score were successful in supporting the emotional import of the scenes. The set design by Veer ji Sumbli, was noticeable for the cleaver use of minimum props to create the feel of a room and the improvised mock Court Room.
Tomorrow, the concluding play of the festival, Oedipus Rex will be staged by Samooh Theatre.