CinePlay Festival ’15: Between the Lines

We love theatre, and we love cinema. CinePlay, which blends the magic of theatre and the power of cinema, came as the answer to all our prayers.

The inaugural CinePlay Festival, which celebrates the first anniversary of the initiative, was kicked off by the remarkable story of how it came about. Though it now seems like an obvious solution, filming and screening plays wasn’t always a common practice. In fact, theatre purists even argued that it took away from the allure of the medium. Even Nandita Das, who co-founded CinePlay along with husband Subodh Maskara, admitted that she had her doubts. However, she quickly went from skeptic to cheerleader, and CinePlay was born. Naturally, the first CinePlay to ever be filmed was the couple’s production, Between the Lines, which was also the first screening at the Festival!

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Many stars came out in support of the Festival. The who’s-who of the evening included Tara Sharma, Kiran Rao and Mohan Agashe, among others. Veteran actor Agashe was also honored with the CinePlay Award for Icon of the Year, which celebrated his contribution to film and theatre.

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Between the Lines
, starring Nandita Das and Subodh Maskara, is the story of a relationship on trial. It explores the hardships faced by a couple when their professional lives start creeping into their personal lives.

The CinePlay follows a couple who met in law school, and have been married for 10 years. Though Shekhar and Maya have come a long way in the last decade, there are still tensions bubbling under the surface of their marriage. These issues threaten to destroy their marriage when they find themselves representing two opposing parties in a criminal trial.

Through Maya’s character, Between the Lines explores myriad topics that are usually considered off-limits. As she represents Kavita, who may or may not have shot her husband, Maya comes to terms with the fact that inequality isn’t always obvious, even if you’re the victim. It shows you that abuse isn’t always in the form of whips or slaps. It explores the problems that are deeply rooted in our society, irrespective of privilege. And it does all of this beautifully.

With a theme like this, it would’ve been easy for Between the Lines to be preachy. However, the CinePlay manages to strike the right balance between humorous and realistic. It is dark, but with the darkness also come witty quips, engaging banter and questions that haunt you long after the screening.

The fact that Between the Lines is presented as a CinePlay also has its own set of advantages. The cinematography, which mirrors the tone of the play, is extraordinary. Add to this the brilliant direction by Ritesh Menon, and you have a riveting yet aesthetically pleasing presentation.

The CinePlay is further enhanced by its crisp dialogue and tonality. Nandita Das and Divya Jagdale have managed to find the sweet spot where they can get across a serious point, without ever making the play dull or preachy. The intense drama is peppered with one-liners that will prove way more effective than any monologue ever could.

Of course, the key ingredient in the success of Between the Lines is the acting. Both Nandita Das and Subodh Maskara are brilliant in their respective parts. Though both their characters would’ve been easy to dislike, they bring forward a side that makes you feel for them and see both sides of the story.

The only thing that viewers might dislike about this modern classic is its ambiguity. However, it can also be argued that it is what makes the play a class apart.

All things considered, Between the Lines is a stellar piece of theatre that you can’t afford to miss. It translates beautifully from the stage to the screen, and watching it as a CinePlay is an experience in its own right!

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