Prithviraj Gives the World's Best Play!
DEEWAR (Stage Play)
Prithviraj and Ramesh
Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Uzra, Zohra, Hema, Sajjan, Raj Kapoor, etc.
Royal Opera Bombay
Produced & Directed by:
We have a number of plays in England, America, Germany, Italy and in many other countries. We have seen gorgeous plays with stupendous settings, brilliant ones with philosophic learnings and some morbid ones with social conscience but never such a speedy, brilliant and purposeful plays as Prithviraj Kapoor presents in "Deewar".
"Deewar" surpasses anything we have ever seen before and incidentally deserves to be called the world's best play.
In three short hours, during which every minute is utilized purposefully, "Deewar" unfolds the two-hundred years old panorama of our national serfdom and touching the present political impasse, grabs at a future solution of the problem of our freedom. All within three hours his brilliant play covers the miserable past, the painful present and the hopeful future and within a single setting which becomes the symbolic home of Mother India.
The Tale of a Nation
The story of "Deewar" is the woeful tale of a nation. It is known to 400 million in India and realized by ever starving Indian when he glances at the deep pit of his empty stomach or silently bears the pangs of hunger within. It is the story of a happy land once in its supreme blossom of harmony and happiness visited by a horde of poisonous insects who prospered on the blood of the people so long that people lost their national identity and in the vale of hunger and greed, created in the wake of ruthless exploitation, forgot to recognize their own kith and kin.
"Deewar" is a grim tragedy that provokes some cruel amusement at times but behind the ripple of laughter, that so often passes through the audience, is heard the rebellious groan under the killing weight of alien hackles.
People enjoy "Deewar" by laughing and weeping through it but they cannot forget "Deewar" which stabs the heart of all slaves and plants in it a national conscience.
The story is simple. Two brothers live happily, loving respecting each other. In their world there is complete harmony and their people look upon their chief with a reverence given to a father.
One day strange people, from across the seas, land in their home and seek shelter. These strangers bring "ideas" with them which puzzle and amuse the good people of India for some time. With ideas come privileges and privileges are soon turned into rights. These strange people are the British.
One by one, the monuments of traditional love and harmony are brought down to dust and on their ruins is built a superstructure of bondage - the bondage of the very people who gave the British home and hospitality once.
Very soon the brothers are won over by the glamour and civilization of Britannia. The elder brother is soon seen in a riding dress, aping the foreigner even in the little ways of life. Till this stage, the younger brother has not come within the grips of the foreigner. Very soon Dame Britannia starts operating on the youngster and by the time the elder gets back his senses, the youngster becomes a greater monster.
Misguided by the alien influence, the youngster now demands a division of the home and the property. After very pathetic interlude, the division is granted and a wall cuts into half everything that was whole and single one.
Her Prithvi Kapoor dares to solve the present political problem of the country by making the younger brother see sense at the last minute and by breaking down the dividing wall with hammer strokes of unity. That is wishful thinking by a nationalistic producer.
"Deewar" has to be seen and heard and can't be described in a review. After three hours of "Deewar", one comes out an older man and certainly wiser. The pity is that our Muslim brothers don't see "Deewar", the play. They only see Deewar, the dividing wall.
As a stage production, "Deewar" is easily the best play in the world, as we have said before. It has excellent production value, very pointed and choice dialogue and suitable music. The theme of the play could have been presented better.
Almost all the players, with the exception of Hema, gave good performances. Hema makes queer mouth formations and spits out her dialogue too abruptly. She is graceful only when she dances, otherwise her general demeanour looks very frivolous.
Prithviraj, in the role of the elder brother, lives his part of a kind, trusting, fatherly head of the family. Though everyone shines in his own role, Prithvi's performance remains an outstanding piece of art from the beginning to the end. Uzra plays a superb housewife as Prithvi's partner. This woman puts a lot of emotion in her dialogue and has completely got over the Punjabi accent which was so evident in "Shakuntala". It i a treat to watch Uzra in emotional sequences and many a tear is drawn in sympathy with her plight. Zohra does her bit very well as Dame Britannia - in fact too well to be completely hated by all.
Sajjan plays the younger brother and doing so reminds us of a well-known political personality in the country. Sajjan gives an admirable performance.
One who surprised us most was Raj Kapoor, Prithvi's oversize, over wise and seemingly extra-modest son. This lad is a born artiste. He is terrifically versatile. Anything, from the slapstick to the pompous, from the ridiculous to the sublime and from romantic to the tragic, seems to come to him with the case of veteran. The boy provides himself a worthy son of a great artiste. In the role of the family servant, Raj takes your heart and salute, both.
But Raj should learn a little more from his illustrious father. Prithvi has character which Raj yet to prove. We shall watch the career of this little cub carefully and we hope he doesn't let us down. Prithvi has not, after years of work in our film industry.
In fine, "Deewar" is worth traveling from the other end of India to see at least once. It is a treat of a life time and the country should be grateful to Prithviraj for giving to us the nation's best stage-play.
This article was published in Filmindia magazine’s May, 1946 edition.