From the Actors of 'Silence! The Court is in Session'

Acting in a play can be a challenging task! You truly have to become the character you are and leave your own personality behind. Ashoka’s most awaited play, Silence! The Court is in Session is finally here. We are excited to hear about the characters of the play from the actors themselves! Here, they talk about their characters, their favorite dialogues and their biggest challenges.  

 

Gopal Nath Ponkshe (Saheb Singh Chadha): My character is a lowlife nobody. He's failed his 12th, and works as a clerk in a government office. He's a chain-smoker, but despite all this, he is overconfident. Zindagi jhand hai, fir bhi ghamand hai.

Favorite dialogue: “Yeh lawyergiri to bahut achhi kar leta hai; iska dhanda kyun nahi chalta?", referring to Sukhatme.

Biggest challenge: The challenge for me was not making the acting too mechanical, and letting the emotions flow naturally.

Saheb Singh Chadha

 

Leela Benare (Gaayatree Sneha Sharma): Benare is an independent woman. "Khud ka kamate hain hum." There is no line more apt than this to describe Leela Benare. The process of leaving one’s own personality behind and actually becoming their character is one of great intrigue to me,  for that’s precisely where the complexity lies! Unlike the rest of the characters who are securely strung into a singular identity, Benare is never just one person. She is thirty different people at the same time. In fact, the reason why she is looked down upon is because she embodies multiplicity. Wild, eccentric, and unpredictable, yet tender, loyal and nurturing at the same time (among many other things), it is never about slipping into just one character when I am her.

Biggest challenge: Benare’s multiplicity was the biggest challenge for me. Maintaining all of these characters was one thing I really struggled with initially.

Gaayatree Sneha Sharma

 

Ganpatrao Kashikar (Deep Vakil): My character is the epitome of patriarchy. He describes his actions as social work, but that is really not true. Of all the deplorable things he says, the most infuriating is when he tells Mrs. Kashikar to shut up. I think everytime he does that, he thinks he's flaunting his masculinity, but he's really only exposing his fragile ego, one that can't stand his wife having an opinion (even if it’s the same as his).

Biggest challenge: Mr. Kashikar’s behavior towards his wife was the biggest challenge for me,  because it falls in direct conflict with my views on feminism. It tears me to pieces to be playing a character that I absolutely despise.

Deep Vakil

 

Mrs. Kashikar (Anodya Mishra):  I play a stereotypical 45-year-old middle-class woman who has been oppressed her entire life by patriarchy. She has no way to get out of her situation, so she has made her peace with it.

Favorite dialogue: “Sab kuch toh mil jaata hai inhe shaadi kiye bina, toh shaadi karne ki kya zaroorat?”

Biggest challenge: For me, it was getting into the shoes of this character itself,  because I have never been told to shut up by anyone my entire life. It was really difficult to not answer back and slap the person who did this to me in the play, my husband.

Anodya Mishra

 

Sukhatme (Siddharth Ratra): Sukhatme is a mediocre lawyer with an ego bigger than Jupiter. He is hypocrisy and patriarchy personified with highly traditional views.

Favorite dialogue: “Mr. G. N. Ponkshe, what is your name?”

Biggest challenge: Maintaining my energy and negative emotions throughout the play.

Siddharth Ratra

 

Raghunath Bhikaji Samant (Saptarshi “Pixie” Basak): “Raghu Samant, people often forget my surname. This dialogue sums up my character—a nobody. But he’s very kind and simple. Educated but under-confident, he is a people-pleaser. He is very gullible and wants the appreciation of the people around him.

Favorite dialogue: “ I don’t want the sin of falsehood, I am a great believer in God.”

Biggest challenge: While portraying him, my biggest challenge was to not be childish, but to be innocent and stupid at the same time.

Saptarshi "Pixie" Basak

 

Balu Rokde (Riday Chokshi): When I went to audition for the play, I planned to try out for every role except Rokde. Upon reading his character description, I was unimpressed by his meek and uninspiring character. Funnily enough, I landed this role by virtue of the directors’ feelings that I would be able to establish strong familiarity with the character and embody him. After three months of contemplation and hard work, the sad learning I received from Rokde was that even if all my support systems, even my family, started failing me and stripped me of my self-esteem, my male privilege would save me from complete despair. It is a humiliating life to live when one has been relegated to a servile status by his own foster father since adoption. Surrounded by patriarchs who belittle Rokde for his weakness, he draws some shred of respect by shaming Mrs. Benare for just acting on her freedom. No matter how much humiliation society has put Rokde through, I remember that he is also complicit in Mrs. Benare’s plight. It is this grey area of discovery which has kept me on edge with this play until this point.

Riday Chokshi

 

Watch these amazing Ashokans perform 'Silence! The Court is in Session' on 23rd April, Monday at 9 PM. Directed by undergraduates Saranya Subramanian and Varsha Ramachandran, this play will definitely be an eye-opener!

 

Edited by Rangoli Gupta

Photographs curated by  Varsha Ramachandran