In times of peace, you are a scientist of the world. In times of war, you are a scientist for your country.
Motley’s Einstein starts with easy mentions of the theory of relativity; of Einstein’s childhood when his parents worried about his speech failure; how his teacher disliked him for asking questions; how his father wanted him to study for the job of an electrician; of how he hated living in Germany and was happy to move to Switzerland; about his failed marriages.
Naseeruddin Shah, through his impeccable and effortless emulation of Einstein, portrayed the human side of Einstein by showing how Einstein would grapple with issues such as replying to mails that came to deluge him from far and wide; how lecture invites irritated him; how he would be flummoxed when fans and followers would request his autograph and stare at him in adulation; how music affected him and touched his soul.
And then, effortlessly again, Naseeruddin Shah wade to graver issues — how the same knife that cuts vegetables, kills humans too; how the state uses research work of scientists to make weapons; why you can either say ‘yes’ to war or ‘no’ to war; how the Jews were persecuted in Hitler’s Germany; and somewhere in between, warns, “Never be afraid to question”
Motley’s Einstein is an extremely relevant portrayal of what Einstein felt about state, politics and war. And moving too, because, it gives you a sense that the world hasn’t progressed from it turbulent past of the world wars. He laments, towards the end, “No part of the world is safe anymore”, when he talks of the Hiroshima bombing. Leaving the audience to ponder over the fact the world is no better since his times – that it still remains so unsafe everywhere.
Go to see a riveting performance by the Master — Naseeruddin Shah. Motley’s Einstein is 75 minutes of pure mastery of Shah’s craft of evocative story-telling.
(Saw it in NCPA’s, Mumbai, Tata Theater. It can seat around 1000 people, and was filled to the brim last evening, watching Shah (who eerily resembles Einstein) in pin-drop silence for 75 minutes and following it up with a fitting and resounding standing ovation)