Chashm-E-Nam (Hostels 1, 6, 7 and 11)
PAF Review “Chashm-E-Nam”
Anshul Jain (Zen)
If I go back in past and analyze, I would come to a conclusion that to make a blunder of any last PAF is really difficult because you have ample time and momentum to make things better unless you think that whatever you are doing is the best you could have done.
Though this review is being written post-results, I’d like to clarify that this is completely an unbiased review and I have written what I felt about this PAF without really giving any thought to what positions or trophies it won or lost.
Script and Direction
If someone thinks that taking a bold topic like prostitution and engaging the script with subjects like sex, AIDS, condoms and exploitation will make the script bold and beautiful, then they are absolutely wrong. Whatever may be the topic, you need to justify it and carry it along with your dram. Just because one takes a bold subject does not mean that they can script it loose and untidy and still expect to create an impact. No doubt this was a very strong topic and there was lot to explore but the script team really failed to create any impact out of it. Another thing that I want to state here is that; please stop mocking people or other PAFs in a PAF to create humour. Even though I liked the initial streetplay done by this PAF and laughed a lot, I really feel that PAF is not a stage for all this. One needs to understand the status of this platform. This is the most professional stage IIT can ever provide you and hence it’s a plea to preserve its integrity.
The first streetplay or for that matter, all the streetplays were poorly directed and executed. There were long and unnecessary blackouts which paced down an already wrecked screenplay. The ending specifically was stretched by leaps and bounds making the audience impatient. I really felt that the PAF team decided things that they want in the PAF like a “Mujra”, a streetplay, an auto, a bollywood dance, a Punjabi and a Gujrati voiceover and asked the script team to loop in everything somehow. The scenes were so scattered and disjoint that I was really confused at times where the script was leading to. Why was the video screened in between the PAF when it had the summary of the issue? The end wasn’t concluded well. The moment we thought that Shabnam would conclude with some powerful dialogues and bring on the conclusion well, she was shut off and the choreo people took over.
What disappoints me the most is that they failed to justify such a powerful subject and shut the possibility of a PAF again on this topic for years. This subject has a tremendous scope and even a mediocre level direction and execution would have created a massive impact. So as far as the script and direction is concerned, they failed to impress those 2000 “customers” sitting in OAT, who expected a lot from this issue.
Acting and Voice-overs
The acting and voice-overs were very off and loose. If you really want to see what kind of impact does a streetplay has in a PAF, go watch “Dastak” done by H3 and H6 in the year 2005. You need to deliver power and cohesiveness in your voiceovers. You need to be parallel while in this PAF the voiceovers were serial, one would start, second would then follow and hearing them third would join, in a place where the trio should have started simultaneously. The acting in the streetplay was bad as well. The voice-overs weren’t smooth and suddenly one could hear strong aggressive voice-over (don’t know why) and the actor, unaware of this sudden burst of intensity, continued with his same level of exaggeration, making the two things go to extremes. Also there were many places where there were short pieces to be sung in the streetplay. Why did the voice-over team even try that? No one was close to any other in terms of scale. Why didn’t the music team carry out that part? Yes it is important to know what you are good at but at the same time it’s very crucial to know things where you are not. And if you know you are not, please pass on the responsibility to those who can carry them well. The only relief was when “Fatak” was handed over to the music team and it was decently sung by a vocalist.
Some of the actors really didn’t seem to have stage presence. They were covering each other in some scenes, or they were out of the light range. Some of the streetplay actors were so ahead in the quadrangle that they forgot that light is necessary for them to be visible. Even those who were shifting the prod were adding to poor execution. After setting up the screen for the video, why would anyone go across it when you can easily leave from the other exit?
However, there were some good individual performances here and there. The acting and voiceover of Deepti, playing the role of Reshma, was amazing. Her body language itself conveyed her character and a genuine voice-over added to it. Same goes with “Sulemaan bhai’s” acting and voice-over, both were brilliant. The voice-over was so authentic that it really made me feel that sulemaan is actually speaking while chewing a pan at all times. Sardarji also pulled of his character well. Apart from that “Chandu”, the auto driver, did a wonderful job both as an actor and as an auto driver. Though he should really learn how to put off an auto :P.
The FA work in the prod, especially the setup of the “Kotha” where Mujra took place had amazing FA work done. The small backdrop painting which came in for a very short time was very well painted. But overall the prod was not impressive. I mean where does anyone get to see a chawl/community building with fluorescent green, bright yellow and dhinchak blue colors together. I am not very sure what kind of feel did they want to give to the main stage prod. If they wanted it to look shabby and old, then they could have brought that effect by some FAgiri over the walls. If they wanted it to be classy upper class society then they shouldn’t have used those colors. However the left side prod was able to bring the feel of “Laal Mandi” area and the idea of connecting the left hand side prod with the main stage with a stair was good. More could have been done on the plain walls of the building and the red wall behind. The black cloth painting was good enough to give us a feel but then one major issue was that most of the screenplay was carried in front of that 2-D painting rather than the 3D main stage prod.
The right hand side stage prod, the office of “Prayaas, ek nayi udaan”, was really not upto the mark. The board displaying “Prayaas” looked like as if a small 5 year kid has painted it. And to live it up to the tagline of “ek nayi udaan” they painted some “Freezed” birds outside the window which were paused just like the wall clock in the office. Thus, the overall prod wasn’t very impressive but had some brilliant FA work at places.
Lemme repeat what I said for PAF 2 music. “Music… ummm…. hmmm… umm… was there any background music? I don’t know… you see I don’t remember. I don’t remember what exactly they were playing.” But this time I mean it literally. The background music just didn’t bring on the impact which was necessary. The music started and stopped according to its own whims and wishes. Thus the background music just couldn’t bring out the emotions and the intensity needed to support the screenplay. The music during streetplay was mediocre and a lot could have been done. The pieces they played were not clean and there was very little co-ordination among the music and the voice-over team. However the composition for Mujra was decent with the vocalist doing a good job. The female vocalist was good at other places as well except at the end where is she had gone off scale at places.
As I said for the script that taking an unconventional and controversial issue itself won’t help you, similarly bringing on a “Mujra” would just not create wonders if not executed properly. First the scene of Mujra was completely out of place, second the lights during the act were awful and third the length of the act could have been shortened to create the impact. The choreography was average with the central dancer trying her best to make an impact. The good thing was that she didn’t lose her balance after so many consecutive turns. But having said that, I really felt that certain steps were not complete and could have been tidier. It was funny to look at the tabla player with “zakhir hussain” look, who was banging his head all over the place when he is just playing a normal “tri taal”. Though we understand the energy and enthusiasm behind it but it should come at the right time and at the right place. Nonetheless the musicians sitting behind tried their best to keep the scene lively and upbeat.
The bollywood dance was so genuine in all aspects because one, it used the most cliché way of bringing impact by using medley of some famous numbers. Two, it came without any invitation as most of the bollywood songs do in the films, making it completely irrelevant. The choreography was again very average. Thanks to the lead dancers (Nano and The Rathis’), who with their expressions, pulled off the act very well and made it worthwhile to watch.
The third sequence in black dress was just brilliant. Good body language and attitude made it very impressive. The choreography was amazing and it really built the momentum of the PAF. The costumes were also very well chosen. The free falling act of Zoya at the end of the dance and the lights going off at the nick of the time made it all the more wonderful.
The last sequence was again loose and static. With light team goofing up here and there, it really couldn’t impart the emotions. Though I liked the track used for the dance, I thought the dance could have been a little better. Also by the time this dance came, the uproar in the audience was already on its peak and even though the choreography wasn’t that bad, it failed to create the impact which the PAF demanded.
Lights and Costumes
Lights have been disappointing in almost all the PAFs and really don’t want to state the same things again and again. Needless to mention they were poor in this PAF as well. One thing that I have never done in PAFs is handling lights and hence just don’t want to be harsh to them as I don’t know what problems do they exactly face. But from my experience I feel that what light team needs the most is complete run-throughs. If you don’t have complete run-throughs with lights, they are bound to make mistakes.
Costumes used in the PAF were awesome and kudos to the team for bringing the right costumes to give us the feel of the place and the profession. Commendable work done on all the costumes for girls. Even costumes for other actors and the streetplay actors were decent. So overall happy to see the use of costumes in this PAF.
Needless to mention that the PAF lost its pace and its impact from the very beginning and even the high points like dance and a well-made video was not able to pick it up. The direction was very loose and I guess the team fell short of run-throughs, which was precisely the reason for such execution. The script made evident and deliberate efforts for bringing humour. Wish they would have channelized the energy and time in other areas, making the overall PAF better.
And as I say PAF is not a collection of a contemporary dance, drafted mockery, casual streetplay, controversial issue, larger than life structures, an OC or a distinct voice-over. PAF is anything or everything which makes me watch without blinking my eyes for an hour and makes me think over it for days with its power.
With this, another awesome PAF season comes to an end. We hope that you liked the videos made by Team InsIghT. For suggestions and feedback, please mail us at email@example.com