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Mafia comedy opens Delhi leg of Aadyam’s theatre festival

THE ASIAN AGE. | KAVITA NAGPAL
Published : Aug 9, 2018, 5:58 am IST
Updated : Aug 9, 2018, 5:58 am IST

The play provided an opportunity for the director to work with physically trained actors who could change their appearance and jump about with ease.

The play’s challenge is in handling a number of forms, from 11 actors playing over a 100 characters to the light and shades on stage to live music.
 The play’s challenge is in handling a number of forms, from 11 actors playing over a 100 characters to the light and shades on stage to live music.

Aadyam, a theatre initiative by Aditya Birla Group, has been presenting the plays from Bombay in the last three years. They have presented over 150 shows of 17 plays each season. This time, mafia comedy Detective Nau Do Gyarah opened the Delhi leg of Aadyam.

Directed by Atul Kumar, Detective Nau Do Gyarah, a Hindi adaptation of English film director and producer Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 classic The 39 Steps, revolves around the journey of an ordinary man, Shekhar Kumar, through the streets of Bombay during the black and white period of the Indian cinema.

The play provided an opportunity for the director to work with physically trained actors who could change their appearance and jump about with ease.

The play’s challenge is in handling a number of forms, from 11 actors playing over a 100 characters to the light and shades on stage to live music.

They changed costumes, lit up the stage manually and took up many characters in front of the audience. In all this, the band was important for its double bass, saxophone, drums, trumpets and keys set to music which added to the movement of the play. The movement between fiction and the reality was annulled through the fast pace with which the play moved. And yet it was not all, there were lapses and moments of boredom in this, but by and large it was an enjoyable show of the talents.

It was quite remarkable to see the actors in operation as they changed identities and went over the top to draw a laugh. There were touches of Chaplin and Hitchcock in the play, but not as much as Atul wanted.

The scenic design was great, but for the visuals on paper, they did not make much sense in the totality of the play. Atul is himself a good actor and he could have easily made the initial announcement of greetings to the Delhi audience an explanation of the play.

The second play I saw at the India Habitat Centre’s Stein Auditorium was Partition: Stories of Separation by Sonam Kalra, who has also directed the play with music by her and Ahsan Ali. Musicians on stage were Ahsan Ali on the Sarangi, Amaan Ali and Rajesh Prasanna on the flute, and Manish Sahariya on the table. Partition blends music, theatre, video and art installations to tell stories of 1947.

Salima Raza was the narrator in English and Gopika Chawala had taken over from Sonam Kalra and was providing all the vocals.

Kalra has composed Punjabi, Urdu and Persian songs, for Partition, from the poems of that era by Jafri, Daman, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Amrita Pritam and writer Saadat Hasan Manto — which she will sing along with Ahsan Ali.

A poem by Ustad Daman, Laali akhiyaan di dasdi hai/Roye assi vi, roye tussi vi (The redness in our eyes shows that you have cried and so have we), formed the crux of the play and was an inspiration behind Saliman Raza’s cooperation in the play.

She was truly good as she went on to emotionalise the concept of the Partition of India. Gopika Chawla sang Ajj Akhaan Waris Shan Nu, an original composition on the poetry of Amrita Pritam, where Waris Shan is asked to wake up from his grave and to look at all the girls crying now. When he wrote Heer Ranjha he only heard Heer’s cries. While Salima Raza is a veteran actress of renown, Gopika is a graphic designer and uses her understanding of the visual medium and the digital technology to explore and create her own artistic projects.

By using Hum ke Thehre Ajnabi by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Khabram Raseed by Amir Khusro and Dost based on the poetry by Zaheen Shah Taji, the two women on stage tried to give a new twist to the theme of Partition. There interviews on video were similar to the ones seen in the earlier play and did not say anything new. What was interesting, was the positive approach and the desire to take this production to Pakistan.

The writer is a well-known theatre critic

Tags: mafia comedy, aadyam