Seeking solace in a smoking zone

Dhumrapaan play
A scene from Akarsh Khurana's Dhumrapaan

Read the Dhumrapaan review in Hindi at

Cigarettes packets have health warnings and scary pictures of cancer patients, but does that deter anyone? Smoking zones everywhere are full of people puffing away and promising to give up.. tomorrow.

It is one such smoking room in a corporate office that D For Drama’s Hindi-English play Dhumrapaan is set. Written by Adhir Bhat (he won the META in 2017 for best original script) and directed by Akarsh Khurana, the play is all about stress at the workplace and how the smoking area becomes a refuge as well as a war zone for the executives ruled over by a nasty boss Rastogi (Kumud Mishra), also a smoker.

The set is a simple, soulless glass cage where the jittery bunch of smokers (wearing red ties with the day of the day of the week printed on them) congregates—Eknath (Shubhrajyoti Barat) is a senior, who is a few months from retirement, and like so many others his age, he makes do with a basic phone, and cannot keep up with the new lingo.

Owen (Siddharth Kumar) has given up smoking, but keeps gravitating towards the bunch of smokers to cadge drags. He is in-charge of the company’s computer systems and is a jittery type. Mitesh (Ghanshyam Lalsa) and Saurabh (Sarthak Kakar/Saurabh Nayyar) are making their shaky way up the fiercely competitive corporate ladder—the former is a family man, who hates his trapped existence and aspires to be a poet; the latter is the typical small town boy, with an inferiority complex. Into the group steps in the brash Kunal (Abhishek Saha/Taaruk Raina), who doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, and says he is just trying things out. Inadvertently, Eknath and the only female smoker (Lisha Bajaj), trigger a crisis.

Adhir Bhat has a flair for the language and an understanding of what plagues the young. Dhumrapaan can be compared to Siddharth Kumar’s award-winning The Interview (also directed by Akarsh Khurana), also set in the brutal corporate world, which was much funnier and darker. Bhat has created more sympathetic characters—the audience can relate to everyday traumas like losing a job or, suffocating in a dreary job, trying to stay ahead of the pack. There is another story in there, waiting for a playwright to put into words—that of the young woman, who has to survive among the wolves.  More relevant in the #MeToo era.


Directed by Akarsh Khurana
Written by Adhir Bhat 
Cast: Kumud Mishra, Shubhrajyoti Barat, Sidharth Kumar and others
Rating: Three stars

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