“Aawhan” Review by Anshul Jain(Zen):
I believe every PAF has something new to offer to the audience. Behind every performance, good or bad, there is tremendous effort and hard work. It is just that sometimes things don’t fall in place. I feel the same team who might have lost badly can win hands down next year or vice-versa. Though I might sound too critical beyond this point, but I really appreciate and love to see every PAF!!
Script and Direction
I feel the issue taken by the team was very good and different. In recent times, radiation though such towers has become an alarming issue and there have been regular articles in the magazines and newspapers about the disastrous effects of radiation on human body. But having said that, you need a powerful script, screenplay and direction to justify the issue and make an impact during the 60 minutes you’ve got, which the PAF failed to deliver. Talking about the script, the initial 20 minutes could gather some laughter and applause from the audience, but most of it came through a mockery on other PAFs, individuals or IIT specific events, which somehow doesn’t impress much when looked at it critically. As the PAF progresses the gravity of the issue was conveyed but overall presentation was not very commendable. Also I feel the use of videos in PAF to support your story / issue / dram has become immense. Propagating your story or conveying your message through so many videos shows absence of creativity or may be a weak script and direction. Videos should be the last resort. So for example in the scene wherein the professor explains about the harmful effects of radiation through a long techy video, they could have depicted the same through a dance or may be through a street play. Can’t a professor show them a video of a street-play or take them outside the class for a live one? It’s just a thought but if something like this would have been attempted in the PAF, I would have appreciated it more.
Towards the end the PAF did manage to increase the intensity to some extent but could not take it to a level which the issue demanded. It did not leave the audience thinking about the issue. The execution of last scene was very loose. There was lot of confusion as to what the team was up to with multiple things going on like the tower breaking into 5 smaller ones, smaller towers wandering all around the quadrangle, glowing border of India, same video clip going on & off, screenplay mysteriously starting in some corner of the stage, mass gathering on stage etc. Overall the effort by script and direction team fell short of expectations.
Acting and Voice-over
The acting team did not impress much with mere sporadic brilliance. Most of the time, the actions were not in tandem or were mismatched with the intensity of the voice-over. I liked the scene where “Prof. Bakshi” is threatened. The intensity build up was good and the acting / voice-over came out well. The point where “Rehaan” is pushed out of the room was very well executed with lights going off at the right moment, leaving us guessing where and how he fell. The initial scene about “Daayan” was amazing with tremendous energy of the actor and his voice-over (I believe he had a collar mic). “Professor Bakshi” did a good job as he looked to be in his character throughout. Voice-over team did a decent job with no major slip-ups, discounting a few small ones. The voice-over of dean with south Indian accent was good. But as acting was loose and the script didn’t give them much to experiment with, the voice-over team probably did not have something very striking to offer.
I always appreciate the hard work of all those guys who spend their days and nights in OAT to make such a prod, but at the same time I have some questions to ask for the team of this PAF. First and foremost, why was the prod made to look like IIT Bombay? Was there any specific reason? Initially I thought that it would be of some relevance, may be during the end of the PAF. But to my surprise there wasn’t any. Or do they want to show that every engineering institute looks similar? The last time I saw an IIT like prod was in “Deja vu”, a PAF based completely on IIT Bombay and hence it made sense to me. Unless the team wanted to show that such research on radiation can “only” happen in IIT Bombay, I find no reason for them to make such prod.
The FA work and the detailing of prod were not up to the mark. The left side (first floor) room was absolutely empty and the mental hospital had nothing but a Jesus idol. The backdrop of “Mahua” channel had a plain logo with “Mahua” written with pale yellow color on a white background making it almost invisible. As far as I know an interview in a studio is shot with camera on a tripod and not over someone’s shoulder as shown. You may very well say, what difference does it make, but then this argument can then be given for every detailing work done on the prod. Also I couldn’t understand the purpose behind making the dean’s room and prof’s room on first floor. The two rooms shown on ground floor (main stage) were not operational / used. Does making two storeyed prod just for the sake of it earn more points? Also, though I liked the scene where “Rehaan” is pushed out of the Professor’s room, I was just wondering was it a room without a “Fourth wall” 😛
I liked the “Mahinder Bidi and Pan” shop as it had some amount of detailing and looked good. The big inclined classroom was nice. The execution of centre screen rolling down and up was nicely done (though I am not sure if hanging something with the upper truss is allowed or not J ). The “cow” FA work was really nice. Jesus idol was nicely crafted. The change of prod (from lemon towers to a room) towards the left side was great.
To be frank, I don’t remember much about the music, may be because nothing extra-ordinary came up from the music team or may be I couldn’t pay much attention. There weren’t any original composition or live music for any of the dances, correct me if I have missed something (though I don’t say that they are necessary). A couple of original songs were played during the screenplay, mostly during blackouts but they could not leave a lasting impression. The original composition played during the last scene was good. It had good intensity and power but its impact was lost due to poor screenplay. The music played for the threatening scene supported the screenplay well. Overall a decent job but it could have been better.
I don’t deny the fact that to find a relevant place for a dance in an issue based PAF is difficult. But as I said you need to be creative and sharp enough to find ways to make them fit better with your script. The very first performance felt out of place as it came without any notice and probably to convey a message not known to the audience as yet. I mean this is the start of the PAF and no one has any clue what this PAF is about. How could anyone connect to it?
The college performance was good with high energy but in terms of sync it was not a very tight performance. The entry, exits and freezes were casual. I was impressed that you guys got lasers with you but was that the only thing you wanted us to know? The “men in black” dance performance was good in terms of energy and choreography but not-so-good in terms of relevance. The contemporary dance to depict Rehaan’s death was good but not outstanding. Overall the synchronization for all performances could have been better. I really appreciated the bold step to perform the act on skates. It was well executed. I didn’t feel very happy to see the copied scene of ragging from “Munna bhai” where students are being asked to dance naked on “Dola re Dola”. You can think of zillion ways of ragging students and at the same time be funny. The point being, either you come up with something original or you copy like “Pritam” where the source is “almost” impossible to find 😛
There weren’t many glitches with light in terms of on & off timings.. I liked the idea of hanging on-stage lights in the classroom. The flickering used by the Moon during threatening scene helped the scene but it sometimes become uncomfortable to look at such flickering for long. The lights for the quadrangle were poorly handled. The spot moons (quadrangle ones) were not focused at the centre making the quadrangle very dark especially during dances. The lights during the last scene were very chaotic with UV lights probably not going off on time. Also the border from Gujarat to Kashmir was deprived of lights.
I liked the green and red T-shirts for the college dance. For other dance performances, the costumes were average. As I said earlier, sometimes you just don’t have demand for some “out of the world” clothing because the script is such, hence the only place where you can leave a mark in terms of costumes is dance.
Every team has a capability of bringing extra-ordinary elements in their specific departments but what is critical is the thought process behind the whole concept. There are several issues like the one shown in the PAF which need attention, but to justify them through a PAF what one needs is a tight script and direction. Though they had to bring out an issue, they still had all the flexibility to mould the story and develop the characters in a more prudent way. When PAFs based on “Autobiographies or real life stories” with absolutely limited freedom can package themselves in a compelling way, I am sure “Inspirations” can do much better.
Anshul Jain (Zen)
Script: 7 / 10
Direction: 7 / 10
Acting: 7 / 10
Voice-over: 7.5 / 10
Prod: 7 / 10
Music: 7 / 10
Choreography: 7.5 / 10
Lights: 7.5 / 10
Costume: 7 / 10
Overall: 7 / 10