I sat in the first row. If I wanted to I could reach out with my hands and touch the actors on stage. That is how close I sat. I got the seats I wanted.
I had read extensively on Gandhiji’s Death, so was wondering what is it that this play would tell me more than I already knew.
Let me tell you, right from the start of the play to the end of the play, except ofcourse the fifteen minutes break in between, I sat in rapt attention listening to and watching every actor play his/her part on stage. There was soft music that played throughout the play, and at a volume that did not interfere with the performance.
The lighting did not hit the eyes. They were so strategically placed and lit or dimmed at the right moment.
The most glorious was the acting, the flow of the play, the facts that were placed in front of you. The eloquent language that was used.
The death of Gandhi has always been a controversial subject and debated upon not just in India but world over…over the reasons for the killing of the Mahatma… He was called so because of his humane ideologies that won the world over. If not implemented to the fullest today, they are still spoken of and written about with great reverence. He spear headed the freedom movement for freedom from the British, and also went on a fast unto death during the riots.
However, the division that we were left with by the British on the basis of religion filtered the lives of us Indians in every aspect.
Nathuram Godse idolized Gandhi. He followed his teachings that of non-violence and non-retaliation.
Until the partition, he was patient with all that was happening although there were doubts, and wrath was building in his mind, and in the minds of numerous Indians about the way the movement was being executed.
The killing of Gandhi by Nathuram Godse was not an impromptu decision.
It was a thought that was felt over a period of time-that favoritism was the larger role being played here. The trigger point was when Crores of Rupees were promised to Pakistan after the partition, and when homeless Hindus were left to languish on their own and not taken care of either in India or in Pakistan. It agitated the Indian freedom fighters and a large percent of people by and large. It was then that Naturam Godse did not hesitate.
He gave himself up to the gallows willingly saying ‘the moment he shot Gandhi he Nathuram Godse had also died.’ He also stated that the day of the assassination would obliterate all the good he had done and would highlight the good that Gandhi had done.
He was right. Nathuram Gods was a true Hindu; who had love for his nation; however, was known and is still known as a Fanatic.
Such an intense play Gandhi Hatya ani mee…enacted with emotions that made you stir in your seat.
The role of Narayan Apte was played effortlessly by Akshay Mudawadkar. He brings in humor towards the end when in jail. This was a brilliant twist to the play, and scripted effectively by Mahesh Dokphode. There were 2 moments …one when they were playing chess and were in a jocular mood talking about Jinnah and his wife who was to cook for friends; however, she realizes there was only dal in the house. And the other time when he lights a cigarette to smoke, and in eventuality makes all believe that it was Gopal, Nathuram’s brother who is the smoker.
Narayan Apte was never in agreement to the killing of Gandhi; however, towards the end when he realized the favoritism that was on going he conceded and gave Nathuram Godse his support till the last when both were hanged.
Akshay Mudawadkar was thrilled with the idea of playing Narayan Apte, as this character was never really spoken much of in the books written. Mahesh Dokphode the writer director has done much research and has highlighted 2 main characters who played a large role in the lives of the Godse family…Narayan Apte and Sindhu Godse.
Several discussions took place with Mahesh to understand the characters, and get into the skin of the character.
Sindhu Godse wife of Gopal Godse was played by Rupali Bhosle.
Sindhu was a strong willed, unyielding woman who was resolute enough not to give into pressures around her. She did not mind working even as a maid in people’s homes to look after her daughters inspite of having done her BA. Her husband Gopal, Nathuram’s brother was given an 18 year sentence. Sindhu experienced hanging everyday because of the Godse name she carried…such were her trials and tribulations. But with head held high she traversed the miles with great strength and fortitude.
Rupali has come back to theatre after a gap of five years.” A rebirth or a second inning”, as she puts it.
“I had done glamorous roles before and this was very challenging a role, for me even to look into the mirror and accept myself as Sindu Godse. And then allow the audience to accept Sindhu Godse.”
Rupali portrayed Sindhu well, and has created a niche for herself now.
Nathuram Godse was played by Sauraabh Gokhaale …. A commendable performance. Describing it in words would lessen the impact of his that is Sauraabh Gokhaale’s emoting of the emotions. The play is a must watch to understand what Nathuram Godse actually felt and thought. The books highlight him as a mad man, but he was sincere to his mother land. He could not see the land divided nor its people divided. The anger he felt was only because he loved his motherland. He could not see the sectarian strife. He could not see the evicted Hindus not being given shelter, the women being raped and mutilated, he could not see innocent children being killed and dying. For what! For the division of the land and its people; a situation created at the onset by the British imperialists who ruled by the policy of Divide and Rule. He could not see that our leaders were playing into the hands of the Power Hungry British.
There are 2 instances in the play that give us a deeper insight into Nathuram Godse’s feelings and thoughts. In one instance Nathuram Godse is in a dialogue with Sheikh the jailer played by Mahesh Dokphode wherein he states he has never pleaded for his death penalty to be revoked, then why are the authorities troubling his friends, family, and near and dear ones when he Nathuram Godse has already accepted Gandhiji being assassinated by him.
Towards the end of the play Batra the police superintendent once again played by Mahesh Dokphode is in conversation with Nathuram. The death of the Mahatma relieves him from his post of guarding the Mahatma. In the course of the conversation when Batra states that he too has killed 2 persons Nathuram Godse’s reply was ‘killing is killing.’
Batra poses a very peculiar question, “Why didn’t you kill Jinnah.”
It is visible through this question that Batra also had thought of the act of killing, and Nathuram makes him aware of this. It was at this time Nathuram pours his heart out and tells Batra of the atrocious acts of violence once again meted out on the Hindus which forced him to take to the act of assassinating the Mahatma.
Having to assassinate the Mahatma was not an easy decision for Nathuram Godse. Imagine the turmoil in his mind, especially when he for years idolized the Mahatma.
Batra makes a profound statement during the conversation. ‘Mahatma would remain a mahatma, and he would have his followers loving him and following in his footsteps; however, he Batra would become a Nathuram as and when needed.’
All Nathuram Godse wanted was Unity. Naturam Godse wanted Peace. Nathuram Godse wanted to see India in one piece.
Gopal Godse the younger brother of Naturam Godse played by Ambarish Deshpande suffered 18 years of imprisonment. Imagine his state of mind when his brother Nathuram Godse and Narayan Apte considered who was considered to be a conspirator also were hanged whilst he had to languish in jail. As a father and a husband he definitely must have thoughts about them and their security, and he was incapable of alleviating any of their fears and insecurities. He must have died a hundred deaths through those 18 years of imprisonment.
There was a part where Tatyarao that is Veer Savarkar played by Ashish Chandrachud another of our freedom fighters came to visit all three in the jail. He gives them a piece of advice telling them to keep calm during this tumultuous period.
Both Gopal Godse and Narayan Apte to this reply that inspite of being in captivity they have learned how to enjoy moments of freedom.
Towards the end there was a rendition by a brilliant singer played by Tejas Joshi. The singer chokes on his song as he is emotionally overwhelmed.
Mahesh Dokphode the writer director of this play has encompassed in barely two hours an incident that shook the world. This is an art to be compendious and give to the audience the facts in brevity that made Nathuram Godse do what he did…assassinate Gandhiji.
It was after extensive reading of 14 books, and listening to endless documentaries that he developed the clarity of thought to write such an enthralling play. His passion for writing and for the subject is clearly visible in this play.
The language used is ornamental. Every emotion was depicted through his writing skills, and the actors did justice to their roles scripted for them. There was clarity in thought, and choice of words that were very specific and memorable.
The flow of the play was smooth and expressive. There was a logical flow of ideas.
Suyog the well-known production house has held several box office Marathi plays that have received international acclaim. It certainly made a brilliant choice with this play it has brought to the audience.