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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics, II

The Brink!

A recap of the plays and theatrical performances at NSD’s 16 day Theatre Olympics, II

DAY 14

COURT MARTIAL ​ ​ (Hindi)​ ​

Show:  Friday 6th April  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis: Court Martial’s central character is Ram Chander, a jawan in the army. He has been accused of murdering one of his senior officers, Captain Verma, and injuring another, Captain B.D. Kapoor. When the play begins, Ram Chander is already in the court, facing trial. Col. Surat Singh is presiding over the proceedings. During the course of the trial the prosecution, Major Ajay Puri, sees no complication in the case as Ram Chander himself has confessed to the crime. But defence counsel Captain Bikas Roy is up to something else. He poses ostensibly irrelevant questions to the witnesses but they are actually related to the genesis of the whole saga. The witnesses Subedar Balwan Singh, Captain B.D. Kapoor, Captain Dr Gupta, Lt. Col. Rawat and Ram Chander respond to the queries initially in a roundabout way but as Captain Roy persists with his line of reasoning, they find it hard to suppress the truth. The truth is that Ram Chander belongs to a low caste and Verma and Kapoor (prior to the shooting incident) often insulted him using derogatory words such as harijan, bhangi and chamaar. Kapoor’s aversion to Ram Chander was aggravated by the fact that he’s an outstanding sprinter who once beat Kapoor in a race. Kapoor had left no stone unturned in insulting Ram Chander and made him do menial work.

Cast: Ananth Gejo Antony, Nanda Kishor, Chanthu S Panicker, Puri Vineeth PR

Director: Sharad Sharma

Group: Abhinav Rangmandal, Ujjain

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 Hr 20 Mins

Rating: ***


DAY 14


Show:    Friday 6th April   - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: In a cafe at the edge of the world, a group of wayward performers present an experimental cabaret: The Brink! Nobody’s Ever Kissed Me Like That. Or The Brink! A Ritual of Bad Sounds. Or The Brink! I’m a Stranger Here Myself. Musical, muscular, irreverent, and full of wonder, The Brink! responds to that moment when the ground beneath us shifts too quickly, and the world suddenly seems unrecognizable.

Inspired by Pina Bausch’s ‘Café Müller, American songbooks’, and Anne Carson’s ‘The Gender of Sound’, the ensemble slides past the edge of reason in this unfettered encounter with the stranger inside.

Cast: Nigel Brown, McCambridge Dowd-Whipple, Cooper Forsman

Director: Thom Pasculli

Group: Walkabout Theatre Company, USA

Language: English

Duration: 1 Hr 15 Mins

Rating: * ½  

DAY 15

NAT-SAMRAT ​ (Hindi)​

Show:  Saturday, 7th March  - 4:30 PM at Ravindra Natya Mandir, Prabhadevi.

Synopsis:  Nat Samrat is a play that features the story of an actor. This actor has done a lot in his life and has seen heights of success and darkness of failures too.

Director: Jayant Deshmukh

Group: Ekrang Theatre Society, Bhopal

Language: Hindi

Duration: 2 Hrs 10 Mins

Rating: ***


​​DAY 15

​​DAKGHAR ​ (Multilingual, North Eastern languages)​

Show:   Saturday, 7th March   - 7:30 PM at Nehru Centre, Worli.

Synopsis: The performance is an attempt to present a symbolic presentation of a man-in-life distinguished by his perception, emotion, and intelligence. It seeks to explore the workings of Amal’s soul in its turbulent journey transcending the barriers of rigid, codified opinion and sanctified norms. The action is divided into four movements – Amal in primordiality, Amal in exile, Amal in hope and Amal in dream.

Cast: Heisnam Sabitri, Prabin Saikia, Ahanthem Upendro Mangang

Director: Heisnam Kanhailal

Group: Kalakshetra, Imphal

Language: Multilingual

Duration: 1 Hr

Rating: Walked out.

Some observations

1. Hindu epic Mahabharata was the favourite source of the Olympics, inspiring the maximum number of productions.

2. Code Mantra and Court Martial had very similar themes: maltreatment of army officers by their superiors.

3. The Restaurant of Many Orders (Japan) and The Brink! Or a Ritual of Bad Sounds (USA) were not plays but mere exercises in movement and choreography. The team of The Brink! admitted that they had first made a collage of 20 minutes, featuring their favourite songs, and then stretched it to 60 mins.

4. Dak Ghar could not be understood because the language was either Assamese or Manipuri or some other dialects. Ass to that the stylised abstract movement form of the play. Rabindranath Tagore’s much acclaimed play was thus lost on the audience.

5. Nine or more of the 28 plays relied heavily on songs, dance, loud music and a chorus to choreograph their performances, laying significantly less emphasis on acting and emoting.

6. Ghasiram Kotwal was the most anticipated, and probably the most attended play. It did not live up to the high expectations that preceded it, yet managed to hold interest.


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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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