Premchand Story Attempted Addressing Dumbfounded On Stage

by Mehru N Nisa

SRINAGAR: In the ongoing Annual Drama Festival at Tagore Hall, Reshi Rashid’s Wathh was appreciated for its simple storytelling by the members of Azad Dramatic Cultural Club from Repora Lar, Ganderbal on March 17, 2021. This was the third of the ten plays that diverse participating clubs will be performing this season.

Two main protagonists of the Premchand’s Gali Danandi in Kashmiri Play Wathh. The play was enacted in Tagore Hall on March 17, 2021. KL Image; Bilal Bahadur.

Wathh is a Kashmiri word that signifies a state of mind in which individuals are caught in a situation in which they are unable to speak out, connect and interact. They are dumb-founded literally. The state of Wathh is not a physiological issue but is a psychological one and usually dictated by the ecosystem in which the mind exists at a particular point in time.

Directed by Reshi Rashid, also the playwright, Wathh is inspired by Munshi Premchand’s short story Gilli Danda. The story, set in a village, revolves around the life story of two childhood friends – Sadqe (played by Haji Mehrajudin Bhat and Nissar Ahmed Bhat) and Kaerme (played by Mushtaq Ahmed Dar and Aashiq Hussain Najjar). Interestingly, however, the Club has not accredited Premchand in the literature about the play.

The festival is organized by Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages that was recently made into a society on the pattern of various federal cultural bodies.

Some of the lead characters of Premchand’s Gali Danandi in Kashmiri Play Wathh. The play was enacted in Tagore Hall on March 17, 2021. KL Image; Bilal Bahadur.

The play started with a song and subtle Rabab music by Sajad Maqbool, accompanied by Masoom Ramzaan on Nout, which then gave way to Mushtaq Ahmed Dar’s narration. It touched the vast themes of friendship, human relationships, time and the perception of success with a slight hint to the degrading lifestyle. Despite the presence of such serious ideas, the play had a fair amount of comedy, which collected its share of laughs from the audience, which included people of all ages.

The set dominated primarily by a lot of trees, a samavar and earthen cups in the background in addition to the character’s costumes gave the ambience of simple village life.

Though the actors gave their best to their play but it could still have been better in both content and delivery. This was despite the fact that Sajad and Masoom’s live music and songs like Zarum Ne Doorya and NaamiAllah, which was written by Reshi Rashid himself, add to the interest. Older Kaerme’s (Mushtaq Ahmed Dar) soliloquies were followed by Naam-i-Allah sung by Sajad which received applause and cheering from the audience.

The curtains fell on the Wathh with the slogan aa that dohas pyaaro, yeli yi qoum bedaar gasi which roughly translates to ‘we’ll wait for the day when this community wakes up’. ,

The play witnessed impressive performances from Aashiq Hussain Sheikh, Ishfaq Ahmed Bhat, Ghulam Rasool Lone, Abdul Samad Mir, Javid Ahmed Shah and Mohammad Maqbool Bhat.

The direction and dialogues were simple and straightforward to get the message clear and which kept the audience’s hooked during the performance.

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