Cast: Mukta Barve, Ajay Purkar, Umesh Jagtap, Atul Mahajan
Director: Rajesh Joshi
The Broadway play A Few Good Men (1989), about army excesses questioning notions of duty, patriotism and justice, has been adapted and staged in Marathi and Gujarati as Code Mantra. Adapted to the Indian army, Ravi Shelar (Faiz Khan), a soldier from a Maratha Regiment who has requested to be transferred because of his ill health, dies hours before his leave. A probe charges Vikram Shelar (Milind Adhikari), his elder brother and his superior, with murder. Defence lawyer Ahilya Deshmukh (Mukta Barve), a military law expert, defends Vikram. She is pitted against a system that has no problems with collateral damage as long as it serves the higher goal of strengthening the army. Col Prataprao Nimbalkar (Ajay Purkar), Cmdr Shashikant Jadhav (Umesh Jagtap) and Lt Vinayak Thatte (Atul Mahajan) play their parts with conviction. A well-written, high-octane courtroom drama follows. The play has elaborate, effective set design. However, they lag behind in the sound department.
Barve stands tall in an all-male crowd (except Shelar’s mother) on the stage, delivering swift, loaded and witty dialogues with ease. But it is Ajay Purkar’s stellar, high-pitched act that highlights Barve’s performance.