Thirty minutes before his talk show goes live, the blind host decides that it will be his last show. It’s an intriguing decision considering that the show has been pretty successful and thus begins a series of questions in the minds of the viewers.
In the midst of all this, there’s an ongoing interaction between the host and the co-host of the show (both played by Amit Sahu). “The host has been helped by various people to reach this stage. So he remembers all their gestures and unravels their stories, by playing those characters,” explains Sahu.
A one-man show, Anubhuti was staged for the first time in 2016. It was the result of Sahu’s quest to push himself as an actor. “I wanted to do something to push myself out of the comfort zone. I have acted in ensemble plays, co-acted and so on. So I thought why not do a solo show and see how it goes,” says Sahu.
Sahu, who has also scripted and directed the predominantly Hindi play, put together six stories of various characters. He needed one ‘connecting story’ and that was how he thought of the talk show host. “In 2015, I had written one monologue so I included it in this play. After each performance, I used the feedback to improvise the show. After the Kolkata show, I was told that while the back stories of the rest of the characters were clear, the one of the co-host wasn’t and I needed to work on it. So in Bengaluru, where the show was held in August, I included this story of being a single parent,” adds he.
A Ruh Manch production, Anubhuti doesn’t hold a spotlight over media, so much as that on social issues. “I play eight characters, each having a social issue to tackle — disability, illness, loneliness faced by senior citizens and so on. I switch between these eight characters on stage, keeping the audience on their toes. There is no prolonged stage presence of any character. My aim was to talk about social ills and the talk show host happens to be someone who brings all these stories, via the characters, in public domain,” he explains.
When asked if the blind talk show is used as a metaphor, Sahu admits that initially he had not seen it as such. “In hindsight, when the talk show host becomes those characters, he lends his own vision to those people — how they must have thought, walked, behaved etc. It’s his perception of how things are,” says Sahu, “All this eventually adds up to the question — why he wants to stop the telecast of the show? And that’s revealed at the end,” he says.