A walk in the woods: A stroll diplomats ought to remember

(This article was published on March 7, 2016 on Onmanorama)



Is diplomacy a mere show of hate? Can an Indian diplomat befriend his Pakistani counterpart and exchange peaceful yet frivolous conversations? Montley’s – ‘A walk in the woods’ gives the audience a new perspective in this regard.

Directed by Ratna Pathak, this play starring theatre legends Rajit Kapur and Naseeruddin Shah is perhaps the most entertaining display of a dialogue that addresses crucial international issues like nuclear tests, bilateral agreements and of course the VVIP life in Switzerland!

Presented at the JT PAC in Kochi on Sunday, the play is inspired by the original play that was written by Lee Blessing. The performance saw a packed hall.

The plot 

Jamal, a diplomat from Pakistan, and Ram, his Indian counterpart, take a walk in the woods of Switzerland. Ram, who appears to be more uptight about life is rather determined to sign a peace agreement with Pakistan, while Jamal chose to speak on the less ‘serious’ matters of life.

Angry and frustrated, Ram begins to question Jamal on the reasons behind his carefree
attitude. At the outset, Jamal stated that he would like to befriend Ram. Adamant about
striking a deal, Ram explains that he would only do so if he was assured of Jamal’s cooperation.

The conversation leads to a serious discussion on cross­border issues which is often
interrupted by several tiny instances of humorous yet ‘light’ talk; for at heart, the diplomats valued the human bonds more than signatures on a sheet of paper.

Simple, casual and powerful

The play presents a most powerful message ­ take it easy and let life take its own course. This was made evident each time Jamal (played by Naseeruddin Shah) joked about the status of Indo­-Pak ties with Ram (played by Rajit Kapur).

It is needless to say that when theatre legends take centre stage, they not only depict a
character, but they live the role. The sets were simple yet nice. But what one must compliment the duo is for their fantastic sense of adding a dash of natural instinct with each move they made. The dusting of the bench, the disposing of excess coffee from a coffee mug, the limp after a hitting a tree during a chase, all that did make the presentation all the more charming.

The comedy was well timed, subtle yet effective. The dialogues were predominantly in
English with a few Urdu and Hindi phrases interwoven.

Don’t miss a stroll with these diplomats, if you get a chance.