Kasturba, the new production of Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation was staged at Stain Auditorium, India Habitat Centre, Delhi on November 2. The play assumes significance as this is the year Government of India and UNESCO are commemorating 150th year of birth of Mahatma Gandhi.
This covers the period between 1942 to 1944, Gandhiji, along with Kasturba ji and other close associates Mahadev Desai, Dr Susheela Nayyar and Manu Ben were confined at Aga Khan Palace, Pune. This was the only time during the freedom movement when Gandhiji and Kasturba or Ba as she was affectionately called, nearly spent two years together till her death. The play written by RK Paliwal focuses on emotional and dramatic time as well as the bond and respect Gandhiji and Ba had for each other.
Credit goes to the Director of the play Mohammad Ali Baig for capturing the highlights of the period in a lucid flow without lingering on to any particular event. The iconic couple’s concern about their eldest son Harilal’s erroneous life, which to Gandhiji was fate but Ba’s hope to reform him was very aptly handled. Away from public life Gandhiji and Ba were presented in a different light. It is more of an emotional account.
A stellar performance by acclaimed actor Rashmi Seth brought largely unsung yet spirited Ba to life on stage. The hurt, anger, shock, disappointment and despair on seeing Harilal in an inebriated state, was heighten by a superb underplay by her shunning any kind of histrionics can be termed as the high point of the show.
Mention must be made of Vijay Prasad as Gandhiji, Rajiv Kumar as Mahadev Desai, Madhu Swaminath and Snigdha Bawa as Dr, Susheela Nayyar and Manu Ben respectively. The cast was ably supported by Anwar Ali as Harilal Gandhi, Naimat Ali Baig as Devdas Gandhi and SA Majeed as Bhandari.
The sets, costumes and light design were by the director, MA Baig and production was supervised by Noor Baig. Backstage support was provided by Anuj Gupta, K. Lakshman, Osman Pathan, Srikant Kamlekar, Shubham Pardeshi ad Mohd Irfan.
Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation has been staging this play in the major cities of India celebrating 150th year of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth.