IHC Theatre Festival 2023. Siachen. A survival drama about three Indian soldiers stuck on the Siachen Glacier - the highest, coldest battlefield on earth. After a catastrophic blizzard washes away everything in sight, they are left with no news from the base. The days that follow test their beliefs and their bonds as they wait in hope for an evacuation. Will they survive, and remain sane, before salvation comes - or will "General Glacier" have the final say?
Siachen, written by Aditya Rawal, Translated into Hindi by Raghav Dutt, and directed by the maverick Makarand Deshpande, captures the agony of being posted on the highest and coldest battlefield on earth, with a blizzard passing through it.
The storm rages outside and at the camp on Siachen glacier, the three men - Lieutenant Tanmay Bose (Zahan Kapoor), Lance Naik Anthony D'Souza (Chitransh) and Subedar Shabbir Naqvi (Niketan Sharma) - often engage in a battle of words. The audience can see that there is clearly a lot more going on than meets the eye. It is almost as if the storm outside has helped unleash their real emotions as well.
The storm and the weather conditions test their beliefs too. The dialogues lean heavily on dark humour, infusing and diffusing tension as the occasion demands. The soldiers' pasts have shaped their present but their future look. bleak as well. When Naqvi, who seems to be the only one holding on to the notion that someone will come to save them, keeps repeating and telling others 'sab best hoga', it is almost as if he is trying to convince himself first.
Some of the best scenes are reserved for when all three of them are on stage. Without giving much away, it is at the juncture at which imagination and reality, sanity and insanity meet that the play finds its real beat. The question at the heart of the play now also plagues the viewer, who sees the futility in risking so many human lives.
With the location remaining constant, it is up to the actors to deliver an engaging performance, which they do for the most part. Half an hour into the play and the drama picks up pace. Chitransh impresses as the disgruntled soldier and his performance in the latter half of the play is a delight to watch.