Moliere’s The Miser has been adapted by the English, a Russian, a Serbian, a Hungarian and an Indian. Kanjoos, the Indian adaptation by HazratAwara, is very close to the original storyline. Be it the mid-17th century, mid-20th century or early 21st century, the follies and foibles of human character, our inadequacies and love of the self have not undergone any kind of metamorphosis. Man may have conquered many tangible entities, but when it comes to conquering his own desires, he has been quite a failure of sorts. The play Kanjoos draws on this through satirical use of language interlaced with humour.
Kanjoos, a two-act play, was presented by the Adakar Theatre and Cultural Group at the Riverside Theatre on 18 October as part of Parramasala. The director Saba ZaidiAbdi was able to create the ambience of a Muslim household with the stage setting and a clever juxtaposition of qawali at the beginning of every act. The chemistry between the actors portraying the various characters weaved a magic that was able to keep the audience in the theatre till the end of the play. The language, though a mixture of Hindi and Urdu, was simplistic keeping in line with the simple story, though the outcomes were of magnified proportions.
Kanjoos is the tale of MirzaSakhawat Ali Baig, a man who loves his gold coins more than anything else in the world. He is happy to manipulate anybody, even his son and daughter, to ensure that his ashrafiyaan are safe and untouched. For this he is even happy to marry them off for money. But at the same time he has his eyes set on a young damsel who is in love with his son. Even when his son professes his love for the girl, MirzaBaig is not willing to give her up. The other characters in the play, some of them members of his household, are all looking for ways of knowing more about the miser’s wealth hidden away in a chest. The fact that he values his wealth over any human relationship becomes evident when his kazana in question goes missing. MirzaBaig holds the entire world responsible for his missing wealth and goes absolutely berserk. He is made an emotional hostage by his own son, who barters the wealth for the return of the love of his life. The joy he experiences and the voracity with which he hugs the chest when returned to him was portrayed very proficiently by Amitav Goswami.
Saba ZaidiAbdi has done great justice to the script of the play. The emotions portrayed were subtle, yet powerful. She handled the storyline with a deftness that left no loose ends and every character seemed to be such an integral part of the play. All the actors were able to get into the skin of the characters they portrayed, especially Amitav Goswami in the role of the central character, MirzaSakhawat Ali Baig. The restlessness, the greed, the joy, the excitement, the anger and agitation and finally the elation—all these emotions flitted across as the character moved through the course of the play. Kudos to Saba and her team for staging an exemplary show.