The Four Way Test by Suresh Jagtiani

Rotarian Paul George during his presidency motivated the first video production of the four-way test by our Club. Since the earlier plays were enacted ‘live’ twice, it was decided to produce a movie – but in Hindi. Many of the Rotary Clubs all over the country are far more comfortable with Hindi movies than English.

Our Sitaram Shah was the ideal choice for portraying the managing director of a near bankruptcy firm who strategized to prevent collapse by resorting to tactics which test the very fabric of our four-way test. Succeed he did, whilst maintaining the principles of our four-way test to the hilt. Shyamnivas Somani, Madhusudan Daga and yours truly provided the essential support. Kalpana Munshi  played the narrator and the voice of conscience. This was staged and well-received at our Rotary as well at a few other rotary clubs.

At the Rotary Club in Dubai, they were keen to host the film, and even though there were English subtitles, the need for an English version was unmistakable.

I discussed this with my friend and our then Rotary president Shaileshbhai Haribhakti. He was all for it. However, we needed a naysayer who would continuously question the ethics of the strategies used even though they ultimately led to benefits for all concerned. Our Priyasari Patodia was the obvious choice, since she questioned the ethics even before we got started. My participation completed the picture. Ajay Gupta, our then Rotary governor was “gung ho” at the concept and shares this in the opening scene.

Our Sabira Merchant provided me with the original script of the play. Sitaram did the translation in Hindi. However memorising and rehearsing the lines both for the Hindi and English versions was totally outside the scope of the participants.

And so the entire script was transposed into related short snippets predictably linked to each other. Each participant was fully aware of what led to the scene and what would follow, and the part that he or she needed to play. Hence, the innovation and the dialogues are all impromptu in every scene.

The overall effect is for you to judge. Aside from driving home the tenets of the four-way test to the viewer, the original creators of the play ensured suspense laced with Mirch Masala, both borrowed generously.

The Hindi version was completed within three weeks in Sitaram’s office and the English in just four days at Shaileshbhai’s board room.

Suresh Jagtiani