Theatre/Play review : Sex,Morality and Censorship...A play about a PLAY!

Sex-Among the favourite Human Pastimes.
Morality-To each, his own definition.
Censorship-Something we all love to rebel against, in all walks of life.

Now when one has all these three words as a single title, it is bound to catch your attention and that’s exactly what happened! Surfing through the papers on a lazy Sunday morning, i noticed this interesting title. What followed was a quick online booking of tickets and me and my friend were well on our way to this play at Prithvi.
On entering the first thing that strikes you is the nicely decorated set using light bulbs that add their own rustic charm to the stage . The play starts off as a dialogue between a Tamasha artist and a Shahir both facing the onslaught of the so called cultural censorship of their trade. They are soon joined by a historian who supports the Shahir in taking the Tamasha artist and with her, the audience through the play of Sakharam Binder.Sakharam Binder was a play written by the late Vijay Tendulkar in 1972. It featured the story of Sakharam Binder, a rebel and tyrant by nature who makes his own rules and doesn’t think twice before taking other men's discarded women, cast-off wives in his house as domestic servants cum sex partners.
In India the way one has censorship in movies, theatre too has to be censored according to the old colonial laws of the British. The play was quite bold for its times and was perceived as vulgar and too violent for the Indian society by the censor board . This ended up with it being banned in 1974 after a few rounds of temporary censorship certificates by the board. What followed was a long battle between the artists, the censors, and the so called guardians of society in power. In the end truth trumps ,the freedom of expression of the artists is acknowledged and the play is allowed to be staged.
Sex , Mortality and Censorship takes us back to the times of Sakharam Binder - the play, which was a topic of both creative and political rage in this country. One is made a witness to the controversial scenes and the repercussions which the team had to face for staging its freedom of expression . Telling a story in flashback mode is never easy. This is a tricky area where even films falter , however Sex , Mortality and Censorship manages to do it well helped by the good use of music, film and endearing tamasha performances. Add to that the natural performances of the actors and you are hooked on till the end.
Coming from a generation which had not heard about Sakharam Binder, it was a nice experience to watch it unfold on stage and stand its trial by fire. However I would like to add that even though I had not heard about Sakharam Binder,'the issues' surrounding it need no introduction. Time and again,'the issues' crop up whenever an artist tries to create an artform as realistic to life as possible.
It may be a play, a painting, a film or even a commercial but if it involves even the slightest indication of the so-called uncomfortable elements of Sex and Morality , the issue of Censorship will rear its ugly head time and again. It is an endless debate as to whether artists should be allowed to express realistically v/s regulation of the expressions through censorship. However I believe that people are the best judge as to what is good for them and that is where the final call should lie.
The first half of Sex , Mortality and Censorship does leaves one a bit confused ( certainly in case you didn’t know about Sakharam Binder) and it’s only in the second half when the sequences reach a logical end,does the jigsaw puzzle fit into place. Go for it if you like drama. If you are amongst the ones, who love plays centered around social issues this one should definitely strike a chord.
Sex,Mortality and Censorship- Overall an interesting watch!


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