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The rehearsal began, and there were abundant exclamations of "wah-wah!" and "hai-hai!" On hearing the chorus, it appeared as though the actors, proprietor, and the playwright woke up from a sleep. The prelude had impressed them immensely, but when they came to witness the real thing it was an eye-opener! The first scene opened; it depicted Wajid Ali Shah's court. The wisecracks and ready replies of the courtiers! Wah! Wah! Exceptional! What exquisite use of the language! The third scene was replete with humour. The audience laughed so much that their ribs hurt! The fourth scene was full of pathos. Pathos after humour - it was like a storm following the lull. Vinod covered his eyes with his palms and hung his head; it seemed he was weeping. Mastaram was letting out long, deep sighs. Amarnath was certainly snivelling. Scene after scene, and act after act flashed before their eyes, and even before the rehearsal ended someone had already switched on the lights.
The owner had been sitting like a statue. When the rehearsal ended, he exhibited no emotion. He sat with an expressionless face - there was no smile, no thrill, no joy; nothing! "What do you think of the drama?" Vinodbihari asked him. The theatre owner replied with indifference, "I will offer my opinion tomorrow. Please do have your meals with me tomorrow. There won't be a sumptuous spread that's fit for worthy people like you; but do partake of the humble meal considering it to be Vidura's spinach."
The five accepted the invitation and departed. They were happy beyond measure.
Vinod: I am sure we will net at least five thousand rupees.
Amarnath: Don't know whether it will be 5,000 or 10,000, but we made a grand impression for sure.
Rasik: I feel it will be four thousand.
Mastaram: I believe the owner will offer nothing less than 10,000. I was observing him very keenly; he would have offered the money today itself but was afraid we might refuse. There was no smile on his face; but he was immersed in the play.
Guruprasad: I put in my best effort while reading out the play.
Vinod: Yes, it seemed as if Goddess Saraswati herself was speaking through you. Everyone listened to you spell-bound.
Rasik: The owner's silence is causing me some misgivings.
Amar: You are jumpy by nature! You might have misgivings even about god!
Mastaram: The playwright also was clearly happy; I say, we are sure to get anything between 10,000 to 12,000 rupees. That calls for celebration; let's have a feast.
Guruprasad: Certainly, but let's get something in the hands first.
Mastaram: No, sir! When we actually receive the money there will be a grand party; but today we will have a feast.
Vinod: You are a lucky person, Guruprasad.
Rasik: I suggest we go and meet the dramatist; his reticence is troubling me.
Mastaram: Oh, stop worrying! The deal is sealed; the owner isn't likely to get away from us now!
Vinod: We too played our roles to perfection.
Amar: That's what clinched the deal. The owner will feel ashamed to offer any small amount.
There was a feast for the friends in Guruprasad's house in the evening. At around 6 pm on the next day, the five friends set out to keep their appointment with the theatre owner. It was a pleasant evening and ideal for a walk. The five did not, therefore, have to rack their brains for a good reason as to why they had not come in a car. Shethji appeared very cheerful; yesterday's glum look had vanished. He chirped and laughed as though he were some rich person from Lucknow. The dinner had been laid on the table - there were all kinds of fruits, sweets, and wine. The friends had a great time. Shethji was the eptiome of a perfect host; he came up to each guest in turn and insisted they have some more. "Please do have some more. I am afraid we have not been able to provide a good enough spread fit for worthy people like you!"
Dinner over, the parties sat to discuss business matters. Guruprasad experienced a palpitation of the heart owing to hope and fear.
Shethji: Sir, you have written a wonderful play. Marvellous!
Dramatist: The audience here isn't capable of appreciating a good play; otherwise, this play is excellent.
Shethji: So what if the audience can't appreciate a good play! I don't care a fig for them. I will spend 50,000 rupees to get this play on stage. You have expended so much energy and time on writing this play! I will ensure it gets good publicity. It is indeed fortunate for our literature that a talented person like you has chosen to become a writer! This play will immortalise your name!
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu