SEX, DRUGS & THEATRE: a rewarding mise-en-scène

Art is a reflection of society. While Cinema is one of the most impactful medium, Series have now become an important tool of leisure storytelling and impact (eg. Sacred Games). While Zee5 is struggling with innovative and interesting concepts but failed storytelling (eg. The Final Call, Life Sahi Hai, Karenjit Kaur – The Untold Story of Sunny Leone) is a major setback. Theatre has a significant impact in Pune, a city which has esteemed memorabilia of theatre festival and artists. Director Sujay Dahake embraces one of the oldest forms of performing arts on a cinematic canvas, his reverence for the both is bestowed with a rewarding series.

Sex, Drugs & Theatre is about the life-changing journey of six college students working on a prestigious drama festival. The Series surmounts the persisting clichés by crowning itself with cryptic storytelling weaved through visual extravaganza. The clichés mean the predictability of the narrative and a tried-and-tested narrative, but Sex, Drugs & Theatre manifests the art form. Kranti Kanade’s CRD (2017) dealt with an exceptional narrative having the thorough essence of Pune’s theatre, Sujay Dahake’s rustic and more subdued essence strikes chords. For instance, the characters are more approachable drawing similarities to the ones seen around or even the basic conflict which trips over. And the structural setting induces grandeur as well as hollowness for the emotional grasping, of the characters and for the audience.In a cryptic and explicit manner, writers Manas Layal, Ashwini Paranjpe, Niyaz Mujawar & Dahake make the taboo elements succumb seamless into the narrative: sex and drugs. Well, both are taboo elements for Marathi Audience – who’ll have to comprehend beyond the forbidden word. The dynamics are quite challenging, where sex takes a subtle form liberation and participation of human race. When human race is disguised as “competition”, a substance infuriating a robust momentum lightens up the pragmatic thought-process. Sex, Drugs & Theatre, also succumbs to subjectivity of its critical approach; in a way, it’s self-reflective.Cinematographer Athit Naik captivates the leisure drama in a sensual manner, while drifting the frames into the magnitude of ranging narrative. He captures the multiple characters owing to the magnitude of emotional grasp while titillating with colourful hues. It’s a rare sight in Marathi Cinema (yes, I know it’s a series) where colours are being tactfully posed against vibrancy of mise-en-scène. Sex, Drugs & Theatre features the young guns Suyash Zunjurke, Shalva Kinjawadekar, Mitali Mayekar, Nayannah Mukey, Adish Vaidya and Abhishek Deshmukh along with esteemed mainstream actors like Sunil Barve and Pravin Tarde. Suyash Zunjurke as Bhola delivers an intense performance which stays back along with Shalva Kinjawdekar’s escalating performance – the two hijack the ensemble with diverse range and maturation.

Sex, Drugs & Theatre lives up the term mise-en-scène, as it places theatre in a cinematic medium, and frames societal mirror. It’s a rewarding series which liberates the sore-sight with simple visual extravaganza, infuriates ever-growing anger against beloved “management” and excites with relatable dynamics.


Language: Marathi
Release: 05 March, 2019
Rating: 4/5


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