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Taking the Centre Stage – Spotlight by AAINA Dramatics

Aaina Dramatics hosted their annual event, Spotlight, to showcase the theatrical talent of this year’s batch of freshers. Held on 22nd September at the MIT Library auditorium, the audience was shown a concocted display of various chord-striking themes across eight plays that alternated between Hindi and English. The cast and crew comprised almost entirely of first years, while the task of directing the show was taken up by second years. The judges for the program were Prabhakar Sashtri and Sharmila Shaligram.  

The first play Asmanjas, meaning dilemma, revolved around a conversation between a teenage boy and his 42-year-old employer. Through his thoughts on politics and religion, the young boy shook his employer’s views on society and the varied experiences that they had as a part of it.

The next play was a humorous take on a former student working hard to defraud his teachers in an effort to recover his tuition. The Refund depicts a man dedicated to proving that he’s uneducated, fighting his equally conniving teachers who worked the contrary to ensure that they wouldn’t have to pay a dime. The skit’s hilarious battle of wit and unpredictable mesh of tomfoolery made for a thrilling and light-hearted performance. 

Astrologer’s Day began with a humorous rapport between an astrologer and his wife. The plot was centred around the Astrologer’s supposed ability to predict the future. However, it was his revelation of the past that was the show-stopping moment. Abhinav Raj who played the Astrologer won the title of Best Actor for his performance. The award for Best Director went to the directors of Astrologer’s Day, Ambika Maheshwari and Siddhant Pandey.

The Monkey’s Paw told the story of an ideal family’s journey down a sinister path as they come to possess a wish-granting foot from a cautioning old friend. Yielding to curiosity’s call, the father wishes for a sum of money, only to have it shockingly arrive as compensation for the horrific death of his son the next day. Wishing him back to life, the mother soon rushes to the door upon hearing knocks, only to let out a blood-curdling shriek off-screen that forces the father to ultimately wish his son dead. With a premise of warning against impertinence towards fate, the play made out to be the evening’s serving of horror and mysticism. 

A mockery of all star-crossed love stories, Khudhkhushi delved into the story of a young girl Zoya. She had been forbidden from marrying her lover, by her down to earth Chacha Jaan which led to her decision to commit suicide. The efforts made to dissuade her from this decision was portrayed in an amusing manner. Zoya, played by Nandini Jotwani, went on to win the award for Best Actress. Khudkhushi also went on to bag the title of Best Play. 

Murder by Midnight saw a brash hotel detective being tasked by a towel-clad woman to investigate her husband’s murderprecisely what doesn’t happen for much of the story once flirtation takes centre-stage. Tote with sexual tension and frequent twists, the play juxtaposed a bold display of violence and desire with a warm tone of humour. 

Reed Ki Haddi put forth a powerful depiction of the misogyny that women of this country face. The distinctive mannerisms of the prospective groom and his father added a comedic element to the dialogue, despite their bigoted comments.  The awards for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress went to Piyush Pandey and Khushi Gupta respectively.

The concluding performance for the evening was 3 AM Wake Up Call, which heavily reigned in on dark humour and the evening’s recurrent usage of surprise. A man is summoned late at night by his delirious friend, only to soon be caught up in a racket involving a double murder, and eventually succumbs to a mental breakdown. With him regaining consciousness under a different identity, the audience was shocked to learn that the men were the split personas of a single man. 

The music and lighting played an enormous role in setting the ideal tone for each scene. The back-stage crew worked swiftly and flawlessly between plays to set the stage. During such intervals, the hosts, Varun Kapoor and Gaurav Chatterjee, kept the audience entertained while introducing each consecutive play. “The first years have just come to Manipal and we hope that AAINA has helped boost their confidence. Given that they only had a week to prepare for this entire production, we seniors are incredibly proud of our juniors”, commented Rakshit Yaduvanshi, the President of AAINA Dramatics. 

The culmination of days of hard work put in by the cast, crew, directors, and event coordinators paid off in spades. Once again, AAINA Dramatics enthralled the crowd for an entire evening, putting forth an event worthy of the spotlight. 


Images by: AAINA Dramatics

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