ARE WE OUR WORST ENEMIES?
OR CAN HUMANISM TRIUMPH OVER THE PARANOIA OF TERROR?
'Ji Saab ji' is a play about the times we live in. It is a play that deals with the most noted terrorism in this country, and the blind response to it by the State and its people ( ie , us). This is not just another play about Hindus and Muslims; neither is it a play that touts to offer solutions to this pertinent conflict. It is a play that merely re-enacts a situation common enough in a terror-prone country like ours, and through the situation, illuminates - for us to see - how we become our own worst enemies. The play is set in a city immediately after a bomb blast has taken place. It could be any city. (After all, virtually every city in this country has been ravaged by a bomb blast.) A cop is convinced a dying old man holds the key to finding the terrorist who has been identified as the mastermind of the blast. But he has not an iota of proof. So he forcibly enlists a young boy, who shares a special bond with the old man, to elicit the truth from the old man. But what is the you ng boy supposed to elicit from the old man, when the cop himself has no clue what it could be that the old man witholds ? To begin with, does the old man know anything about the terrorist,someone he lost touch with years ago ? Or, first of all, is the subject in question a terrorist at all, or have the cops made a mistake? Ultimately, the play is about humanity. In that sense, the play rises above the subject of terrorism and embraces and explores the enduring bonds of love and friendship not between similar people, but between seemingly incompatible people. For it is that which is at the very core of the idea of Humanism.. is it not? When a dying old man and a teenage boy (of different backgrounds, sensibilities, beliefs, ..everything) come to share a special bond, it is the idea of humanism that triumphs, is it not? The play also conjures up powerful images. For instance, on one occasion, we see the young boy and the supposed terrorist - the two faces of Islam - crouched side by side. The young boy has his little book of prayers before him, and the terrorist, his gun; and together, they offer namaz to the intense wail of the azaan. 'Ji Saab ji' is a simple enough story, but a story that reveals all that plagues us in these difficult times. It seeks to make one or two simple, pertinent points ; things that we seem to have lost sight of in the ensuing melee. And ultimately, the play is an indictment of all ; terrorists,state actors such as the police, and us.