Direction: Richard Twynam
Writer: Abhishek Majumdar
Cast: Adhir Bhat, Ali Fazal, Ankur Vikal, Divyang Thakkar, Faezeh Jalali, Karan Pandit, Meher Achari-Dar, Neil Bhoopalam, Rajit Kapur
Sound: Nadir Khan

There are times when giving a standing ovation seems to be the least you can do to express what you feel towards a play. Djinns of Eidgah was one such experience. Djinns of Eidgah tugs at your heart strings and you witness firsthand the brutality and futility of violence in your very own backyard called ‘Kashmir’.

Being a novice to theatre, Djinns of Eidgah appealed to the viewer in me who cared of a good narrative, knowing precious little about the art of theatre.

The plot revolves around individuals who are each fighting an inner demon, Djinn being a metaphor for all that they fear. Set in Kashmir the play captures the psyche of individuals raised in an atmosphere of dread.

There is Dr Baig, a man who reveres peace but whose only son chooses to be a militant. There is Bilal, a 20-year old who wants to do well in his football trials so that he can escape the mayhem that living in Kashmir entails taking sister Ashrafi along with him. Ashrafi who though a 14-year old finds her mind acting as a 9 year old, shocked by the incident of her father dying in her lap. She talks to her doll, her confidante, the one person who will not let her down.

Then there is the outsider’s perspective. Two Indian army soldiers, one who acts as the voice of reason and another whose fear of the mob propels him to do despicable things to those he has been sent to ‘protect’. The play does not paint a character into black and white, something that no human being is. Each character is flawed in his or her own way.

Though dealing with an intense subject, the interactions between the characters is full of energy supported by an excellent cast. The scenes between Bilal and his sister Ashrafi, be it him telling her a story or trying to reason with her, make you fervently wish that they have their happy ending.

Kashmir has become synonymous with the sound of bullets and imbibing that experience in a play is a challenge that the sound engineer Nadir Khan takes on head on and succeeds brilliantly. Several times during the play you would find your self jumping out of the seat and getting an eerie sense of being in the middle of all the action.

As one watches the play one wonders how we can talk about the democratic ideals in one part of the country while it remains unattainable to a citizen in another part. Is violence the only solution to contain an agitation borne out of the deepest of misery?

Giving standing ovation seemed to be a simpler solution than seeking answers to these complex questions.