If you have performed jury duty at any law court, you would understand the tension that goes with the job. Jurors are often at their wits end, unable to decide if the benefit of the doubt should be given to the accused or rule otherwise.
Prashant Belwalkar has captured such a dilemma in his forthcoming Hindi play called Ek Rukha Faisla (‘An Interrupted Verdict’) produced for Might-I Theatre.
The play, to be staged at the Howick College Theatre on October 30 and 31 may well remind some of us of the Hollywood court drama If which stirred a raging debate in the 1970s or more recently the O J Simpson affair.
Mr Belwalkar has adopted the courtroom thriller from Reginald Rose’s original 12 Angry Men to the intense interrogation that a Jury experiences in deciding on a case involving a young man accused of murdering his father.
While it appears to be an open and shut case prima facie, at least one member of the jury is uncertain if the verdict should go against the accused.
Despite a female witness deposing that she had seen the actual stabbing, an old man saying that he had ‘heard of the incident’ and a knife found at the crime scene, the juror believes that more evidence was required to pronounce the accused guilty.
Says Mr Belwalkar: “A small doubt raised by one juror generates animated discussion. Shortly, another person joins him, leading to a volley of emotions, orchestrated by vocal exchange of words among the members of the entire jury. Most of them end up fighting with each other, in an attempt to make a point or accept that of the other.”
The ending, which cannot be revealed here, may leave you in doubt. That is where the crux of the play rests – to stimulate your thought so that you could be wiser and better prepared when you are empanelled as a juror in real life sometime in the future.
In an attempt to make the play more inclusive, Mr Belwalkar has cast women characters in Ek Rukha Faisla.
Among the actors who constitute the Jury are Binita Redey, Bipin Chavan, Devdutt Paranjape, Hetal Jani, Kedar Divekar, Kuntal Trivedi, Madhavi Ram, Preeta Vyas, Rahul Redey, Ram Padallapurty, Sushma Thakur and Vinesh Kugaonkar.
Tickets, priced at $40 for a family of four and at $15 per person can be purchased online www.www.might-i.org.
What: Hindi Play Ek Rukha Faisla
By Whom: Might-I Theatre
Director: Prashant Belwalkar
When: October 30 (6 pm) & 31 (5 pm)
Where: Howick College Theatre, Sandspit Road, Howick
Contact: Varsha Belwalkar on (09) 5348000
Photo : Prashant Belwalkar (Centre) and the cast of his play