We often need a mirror to reflect our reality and shed light on our expectations. On the fine evening of 17 May 2021, AAINA Dramatics, the official dramatics club of MIT, Manipal, hosted one such event. Their annual competition amongst the newcomers and freshers of their club, ‘SPOTLIGHT 2021.’ This year they sported six plays, three in Hindi and three in English, that shared the common theme of Expectation vs. Reality. In the uncertain pandemic panic, this was the much-required perfect escape. Beautiful aesthetics, in-tune background music, expressive acting, and immaculate direction and editing made that one hour seems like time freeze and time-lapse at the same time.
Khusboo and Mriga, the MCs, stitched the six stories together and added them to the evening with their impressive energy. This year’s six plays were: Tossed Salad; Darz Lamhe Khudkhushi Ke; Sawaal, Jawaab aur Chai; Drugs are Bad; While the Auto Waits; and The Wedding Story.
The Tossed Salad
The name of the play isn’t the only intriguing part of this play. Elements like authenticity, originality are prominent in the play. The script on its own is witty and along with the smooth dialogue delivery, the play was a treat to watch. Speaking of treats, the Japanese cuisine and culture were beautifully portrayed. The key theme of the play was ‘diversity’ and how we’re all just like ingredients in a tossed salad. Every character from the super chill waiter, to the pedantic boy and the fiery manager, added to the diversity of the play, making it more beautiful. The play was light and breezy with an unexpected twist.
Darz Lamhe Khudkhusi Ke
‘Darz Lamhe Khudhkhushi Ke’ a play written and presented in Hindi was about the life of a theatre actress. How the whole situation was portrayed that the actress lied about being on a holiday while actually she was shut in her place when all her friends avoided her. While running lines with ‘Raja’ she makes a few calls to her friends and panics more about being lonely. The play ends with actress overdosing on anti-depressants while the whole story appears to be in past and the climax shows how Raja was writing the whole story as a play. With a soft stroke of saddening music the play ends. The story was beautifully written and showcased. From editing to videography to background music it felt real every second. On being asked about how did they make it possible, the mentors told us that since the pandemic started, the club started to organize online workshops about editing, story writing, expressions etc., to mold the new recruits into what they can be.
Sawaal Jawaab Aur Chai
Conversations over tea are irreplaceable. This short film revolved around one such conversation over two middle-aged men, Praveen and Sharma, Sharma of them being blind. This play spotlighted the everyday struggles and worries of a parent. The kid’s wedding, the breaking ties, and concerns of having failed as a parent. The dialogues and song references were on the spot. Special mention to the black halo effect placed over the character in focus. The conclusion carried across the message of how friendships make things better and “Whatever happens, happens for a reason.”
Drugs Are Bad
Don’t we all wish that sometimes our parents just ‘chilled’ with us? Thought more like us? Well then, this play is just for you. It’ll take you to another dimension where parents are truly your parents in crime and you, well you, are more like them. The shock and horrors faced by the parents from finding a book, god forbid, a book in their child’s bag is amazingly portrayed by the actors; the background sound intensified the emotions too! The script was funny and light-hearted. Overall, the play was entertaining.
While The Auto Waits
‘While the Auto awaits’ was a play based on an excerpt from one of O. Henry. The story revolved around two characters who both hid their realities from each other. While the woman lied to feel what it is to be better than somebody else, the man lied to hide so that the woman may not recognize him. The basis of hiding the reality for different reasons had a philosophical touch to the story. There was beauty in the aesthetic feel the play left us with. The beautiful and strong portrayal of the characters gave the story a strong basis.
The Wedding Story
We’ve all dreamed of our perfect wedding day. Fairytales have induced this into our brains. The narrator/ wedding official starts painting the ideal wedding to the children listening to the story/viewers. But the Bride and Groom have different opinions. Their story wasn’t perfect after all, involving unfaithfulness, sexuality confusion, and fundamental trust issues. They keep interrupting the narrator with the facts. Humorously, this play paints the Expectation vs. Reality of the wedding concept and scenes. When the narrator finally gives in and starts telling the real story, the couple is so shaken at the complications they’re yet to encounter and the secrets they’ve kept from each other aren’t worth listening to anymore. It had a breezy flow while also giving a reality check on marriages.
The judges for the event Pratheek Singh and Gaurav Chatterjee expressed their amusement and admiration for the participants and the crew for pulling the event so well even in an online mode. They then announced the winners in each category as mentioned below:
Best Actor [Male] – Vinayak (Darz Lamhe Khudkhushi Ke)
Best Actor [Female]- Ishika (Darz Lamhe Khudkhushi Ke)
Best Supporting Actor [Male] – Divyanshu (Drugs Are Bad)
Best Supporting Actor [Female] – Mihika (Drugs Are Bad)
Best Poster – While The Auto Waits
Best Direction – Darz Lamhe Khudkhushi Ke
Best Play – Drugs Are Bad
It takes dedication and determination along with cooperation from the teammates to pull any event off successfully, even more in an online mode. The mentors did everything they could to help the juniors express their potential. From zoom meetings to late-night preps, everyone was trying to bond and cover for each other, even when a few actors were quarantined, they didn’t lose hope and held on to each other like a team. Not only the teams separately but all the participants used to come together to play games, share their experience or even if they just wanted to talk. AAINA didn’t let the online mode stop them from unleashing their talent. The juniors did feel awkward to open up at first but as they talked more and more, with each practice and games they all made friends whom they will always cherish and they made short plays which all of us cherished.
“While the main problem what we faced was we wanted our juniors to get the similar experience and learning what we got during our spotlight.” Said one of the directors while an actor added on to it saying “even though the whole event was online, the experience we gained and the friendships we made were amazing.” And hey, that is what matters in the end, right?
Kudos to the club for standing out!
The post was jointly written by Aditi Agarwal, Vaishnavi S and Sarthak Suman Gupta, all first year students of Manipal Institute of Communication.