A refreshing take on the sorry state of affairs in our country, ‘Asylum’ is a powerful play and delivers quite a punch. Based on celebrated writer Peter Weiss’s classic ‘Marat/Sade’ (1963), it is a play within a play and talks about how absolute power corrupts absolutely.
In the most unlikely way, Asylum draws parallels between the French Revolution of 1789 to the Indian society as it stands today, in 2014. The inmates of a psychiatric hospital enact a performance about the French revolutionaries who overthrew and assassinated the King. This was followed by these revolutionaries coming to power and becoming just as corrupt and oppressive as the royalty. Thus, the poor remained poor, and the promises turned to dust. After 67 years of Independence, India is still racked with poverty, corruption, communal violence, malnutrition and a society that chooses to turn a blind eye to it all. In their exact words, Asylum tries to find a solution- Do we need another revolution or is complete annihilation the answer?
The performances are stunning, each character as crucial to the story as another. The bouts of reality as the inmates collapse into a heap of lament and fright, break your heart. Asylum addresses the issues of corruption, sexual oppression, religious intolerance and the mob effect. It urges society to take off its blinds and look at things as they stand. Digging into the fact that one incident sparks candle marches and angry Facebook statuses only to be forgotten until the next thing happens, it is a straight attack on the ‘Chalta Hai’ attitude of the masses and all that is wrong with the people in power.
The cast is an extremely talented lot and Director Arnesh Ghose may take a bow for putting out a true eye-opener. A far cry from the usual pot boilers, Asylum is a rebellious attempt that questions every aspect of society.