Originally written by Prabhakar Laxman Mayekar, Agnipankh, is a historical drama set in 1948 when India became freshly independent from the shackles of a 200-year-old British rule. The audience can still relate to the caste distinction and the power play of the upper castes in some parts of the country at the time. The story revolves around Durgeshwari Devi, popularly known as Baisaab, who had to take up the charge as an administrator of not only the household but also the zamindari and the entire business empire of the family due to the incapability and dis-interest of her husband Raosaab just after that.
Mayekar’s story not only deals with the caste and village politics, but a very tender yarn of love story between Baisaab and Raosaab remains entwined. The play is directed by Ganesh Yadav and stars immensely talented actors like Mita Vashisht, Satyajit Sharma, Raksha Shetty, Prasad Jawade, Gulki Joshi, Somesh Agarwal, Dinkar Gavande, Sumukha and J Prassad.
Baisaab (Mita Vashisht), the administrator of an empire is a headstrong and a proud woman with a very strong personality. She takes immense pride in being an upper caste Maratha Brahmin and evidently shows utter disregard and disrespect for the people of castes lower than her. On the exact opposite is Raosaab (Satyajit Sharma) who in spite of being highly educated is an escapist when it comes to taking up responsibility, an alcoholic, yet a very liberal man and a more approachable parent to his children Indira (Raksha Shetty) and Shekhar (Prasad Jawade) than Baisaab. Baisaab’s intolerance for other castes is evident when her children fall in love with partners from castes lower than themselves. However, Baisaab’s world starts falling apart rapidly when Mahatma Gandhi is assassinated by a Maratha Brahmin Godse and the mass outrage is meted out towards all the upper caste Maratha Brahmins. To know how Baisaab tackles the entire situation, Agnipankh is a must watch.
Mita Vashisht and Satyajit Sharma were excellent in portraying the multiple layers of the characters of Baisaab and Raosaab respectively. The rest of the team members were also at par in their performance. The stage setup, background score and the use of lighting created the perfect ambiance for keeping the audience engrossed. Overall, it is a great production by Director Ganesh Yadav and his entire cast and crew.
Agnipankh has already done a couple of shows in Mumbai and will soon travel across the country. Going by the audience’s reaction at its first performance in Kolkata, this production will surely be a great hit when it makes a second appearance in theatres soon in the city.
– Written by Smita Nag