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All the World’s a Stage—Spotlight by AAINA

AAINA Dramatics, on the 17th of October, presented to Manipal one of its flagship events, Spotlight. With an almost packed venue, the event took the audience through delightful alterations of both language and themes, creating a bittersweet linguistic medley. Mr and Mrs Shastri, two prominent theatre patrons, were judges of the event.

Kickstarting the event was the heart-warming play, The Gift. The play depicted the sheer grief and hopelessness of loss, which could eventually be overcome by unconditional love. The story of a family coming to terms with their comatose son and brother’s heart donation was juxtaposed with the desperation of a boy with a weak heart searching for a way to survive. This poignant tale of love and loss had a good number of people reaching for their handkerchieves.

The next performance was the winner of best play, Saste Jahaaz Ke Sapne. The comical yet captivating scenes from a man’s daydreams about owning an aeroplane were met with uproarious laughter from start to finish. The hilarious script and stellar execution by the lead also earned it the Best Actor title.

Picture credits: Shashank Goyal

The main character of Darj Lamhe Khudkhushi Ke was an actress known to be a diva, yet she had a vulnerable side which was stretched right to the breaking point as the play progressed. While rehearsing with the director’s assistant, a back and forth between rehearsal scenes and phone calls culminates in the actress’s shocking suicide.

Department of Motors and Vehicles(DMV) was undoubtedly well-deserving of the Best Direction prize.  When a young man approaches a sobbing young lady for a driver’s license, she begins to ask him a series of questions which slowly start to lose their relevance. Undoubtedly the boldest play in the line-up, this unabashedly sexual play with its outrageous ending was indeed a gem.

Picture credits: Shashank Goyal

After a short interval, the audience was treated to the play that won second prize, The Traveller’s Bag, which was a witty, fresh take on the age-old trope of the cheating husband. The simple, yet captivating, conversation between the wife and the mistress at their husband/lover’s funeral paved the way for a twist worthy of O Henry, also earning the actor who played the wife the title of the second best actor of the evening.

Khuda Hafiz, a story set in a curfew-struck region, created a very realistic and nail-biting atmosphere. The stark fear of two ordinary men trying to escape unseen through an environment filled with communal violence and apathetic law enforcement was laid bare to the audience. With its twists and shocking ending, this play was a very relevant eye-opener about hate culture.

Picture credits: Shashank Goyal

The penultimate drama, CIA Agents continued with the political theme, but it could not have been more different from Khuda Hafiz. Charged with dark humour, it followed two CIA agents trying to convince an Al-Qaeda hostage to reveal information. The nearly impeccable acting delivered humorous punches at all the right moments. The ending was as brash as the rest of the play, brutally highlighting the USA’s double standards.

The final spotlight shone upon the wistfully bleak humour in the conversation between two suicidal young people, both out to put themselves to sleep forever with opium. Titled Ek Tola Afeem, the play did an excellent job of balancing satire with the gravity of a condition as serious as depression. A cheesy, romantic ending left the audience with pleasant feelings at the end of the play.

All the plays were directed by second years with solely the new fresher recruits acting. The sleepless nights and painstaking efforts put in by all the club members certainly paid off as the immaculate perfection of Spotlight cast its annual magic yet again this year.

Correction: An earlier version of the article had errors in the names of the plays that have since been corrected. The mistake is regretted. 

Featured image and photo credits: Shashank Goyal