Bangalore, June 21;House full! screamed the blackboard at the entrance, even as there was a big rush to buy tickets. This is not a scene outside a multiplex, though the buzz surrounding Deepika Arwind’s play Nobody Sleeps Alone was no less exciting than that surrounding a Hindi blockbuster.
Nobody Sleeps Alone was performed recently at Ranga Shankara. The play revolves around the lives of three gangsters or hustlers: the suave, calculating kingpin Godfrey Singh Joseph; the seductive Sarayu and Wazir Abdullah, uncouth and brash. The three gangsters form a company. Instead of honouring the company’s credo, “we meet, we work, we leave and we don’t reveal our real names,” the gangsters blur the line between the personal and professional. And the company falls apart. The play had all the elements of a typical Bollywood gangster film: guns, conspiracies, hero-worshipping, betrayal, revenge and love. And music. Montry Manuel of Thalavattam created heart-pounding music from a PVC pipe drum and other percussion instruments. He was the fourth character of the play: Carlos. The music brought alive every mood in the play. It was a performance by itself.
Deepika, an award-winning writer, does a marvellous job with dialogue. Crisp, yet powerful; simple, yet hard-hitting, the dialogues had a rhythm to it in sync with the music. The dialogues were unique to every character.
Even though Bollywood was the central theme of the play, Deepika steered clear of clichés. The performances, despite demanding a certain exaggeration, never descended into the absurd.
At times, however, the narrative flagged, particularly during the transition from one scene to the next. And the plot was fairly predictable. Some scenes stood out remarkably, especially the scenes where the gangsters hatch conspiracies.
The characters were not one-dimensional. They weren’t just gangsters. Godfrey Singh Joseph is a failed writer, Sarayu is an aspiring actress who loves to drink and Wazir is a romantic.
Pritham Kumar fit the character of Joseph well, though he wasn’t always in character.
Shiva Pathak was charming as Sarayu. Prasanth Nair as Wazir was a surprise. He clearly enjoyed playing Wazir, bringing out the essence of Wazir’s character through excellent dialogue delivery.
Fast-paced, action-packed, even delicate with a “little bit of laugh”, Nobody Sleeps Alone must be applauded for its unique storyline.