When names like Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah, and Rajit Kapur come together for a play, you know it is going to be something special. Brought to you by Motley, a theater group that was founded by Naseeruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani in 1979, A Walk in the Woods is based on Lee Blessing's play of the same name. The play begins with an Indian and a Pakistani diplomat trying to start peace talks for their countries. Instead of sitting across a table and discussing the issue, they decide to head out for a walk in the jungle.
Jamaluddin Lutfullah (Naseeruddin Shah) has been around for ages and has mastered the art of saying no. His Indian counterpart, the uptight Ramchandra Chinnapa (Rajit Kapur) is hell bent on changing Jamal’s stance and even agrees to indulge in frivolous talk for the same. He obviously is terrible at it while Jamal continues to talk about everything but the issue at hand. Lutfullah's happy-go-lucky nature irks Chinappa but through a series of walks, he realizes why the former is so indifferent towards his job.
A Walk in the Woods is played out in two acts with a 10-minute interval in between them. The set is very basic with just trees in the background. There is an occasional change of weather which is showcased through sound. Even the costumes are simplistic and no extra props are used.
Naseeruddin Shah is stunning as Jamal and proves why he is one of the finest actors in the country. He gets some of the best lines and the casualness in which he delivers them…boy! You’ll be in splits. Rajit Kapur, on the other hand, has to play an arrogant, boring man who knows can barely crack a smile. The actor nails the part and even when he is angry, you can't help but feel for him. Kapur makes you connect with his character who is unapologetic about his behavior.
In totality, there is a lot to like about A Walk in the Woods. Vishal Bhardwaj's music adds to the feel and no wonder this play keeps returning every now and then. Make sure you watch it when it is happening in your city.
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