BWW Review: ZIKRA at Akshara Theatre - A Brilliant Poetic Indian Dance Drama
The crowd thickens as the Delhi smog finds its way into Akshara Theatre, a suburban hangout for drama enthusiasts across the city. The news is out, Ashtam, a known name in the city, is to release his very first poetry collection and a dance drama production directed by him alongside.
The poetic Bildungsroman is a genre that very conveniently invites clichés and quick judgement. Zikra straddles along the quest to find the inertia of poetic insight and the inability to not be affected by it. It is autobiographical and employs apprehensions of the figure of the "Indian Artist" to devour all methods of expression.
The play begins with the male protagonist Himanshu, stuck in the anguish of a capitalist world that does not understand his art. There comes the figure of his conscience, a dancing belle, who storms the stage and puts Himanshu's heartfelt poetry into motion. Ashtam Neelkanth's arousing poetry augmented by the use of flamboyant classical images of the moon and the stars, stitches the moods of his narratives together.
The story is simple and does not intend to be the hero. The temporary saviour seen in the figure of the chirpy heroine and the eventual realization that awakening has to come from within; from the conjugation of his past with his conscience- are tropes that are familiar in drama. What sets Zikra apart is the symbolic usage of "performance" with the combined efforts of good music, lyrical prose and contemporary dance forms. The costumes stay simple and do not escape the "middle class Indian" narrative, just like the settings established. The play is polished to treat its audience like a soothing, comforting lullaby; taking liberty in its preaching in order to purge out the creators' version of an ideal self-actualization.
With great employment of what is often seen in secondary significance in Delhi theatre, the dance and musical form find great placement in the poetry of Ashtam Neelkanth. Terrific acting performances by the protagonists, especially the nuance brought out in Himanshu's poetry by Hitesh, turn out to be impactful.
The play is ambitious in its hold over stage usage and all things technical but the steady length and the exaggerated clichés that it invests in become a distraction to the quick-entertainment seeking individual of today. Zikra is a successful dance-drama endeavor, created by the Vayam Performing Arts Society and holds a steadfast place in contemporary Delhi theatre.
To know more about Vayam Performing Arts Society, follow them here.
Photo Credit: Prateek Bedi