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3 events to catch on Mumbai's stages

In the mood for some wit and humour this evening? Catch Motley’s latest offering in their ‘Story-telling on Stage’ series Gadh-ha Aur Gadd-ha. Premiering in the city tonight, the play, directed by Naseeruddin Shah (who’s also a part of its cast) is a satire highlighting the plight of the common man.

Naseeruddin Shah (standing on the stage) with the cast of Gadh-ha Aur Gadd-ha during a rehearsal
Naseeruddin Shah (standing on the stage) with the cast of Gadh-ha Aur Gadd-ha during a rehearsal

Shah, along with Salim Arif, Danish Husain, Faisal Rashid and Rakesh Om, has adapted this play from Urdu satirist Krishan Chander’s famous short story Gaddhaa (The Hole) and selections from his celebrated works, Hindi ka Naya Qaida and Ek Gadhhe ki Aatmakatha.

“The donkey obviously represents the common man. The way donkeys are treated in this world is an apt analogy for the plights of the common man,” says Shah. Though Chander’s short stories were written 50 years ago, Shah believes that they are relevant till today.

“Satire, if relevant to its own times, invariably finds a universal resonance since things don’t really change as fast as we would like. Just as the cartoons of RK Laxman will always be relevant and when (if!) they cease to be, they will act as a record of their times,” he believes.

Like Motley’s previous productions, Gadh-ha Aur Gadd-ha, too, is message-oriented. The cast also features Faisal Rashid, Aseem Hattangadi, Danish Husain, Rakesh Om, Sahil Vaid, Anirudha Rawal, Dhruv Kalra, Rushil Sharma and Aahana Kumra. The music is composed by Shah’s son, Imaad.

“In style, this production is consistent with our other work in terms of keeping the text centre-stage, but has more characters and more of a setting than our other storytelling productions,” sums up Shah.

On: Today, 8 pm
At: Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Sabhagriha, 252, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar (W).
Call: 24465877

More than child's play
Directed by Akarsh Khurana, Saraswati's Way is an adaptation of a book of the same name by Monika Schroder. Unlike most children's plays, Saraswati's Way is an enthralling plot, about Akash and his endeavour of educating himself, which promises to keep the audiences engaged.

A still from Saraswati's Way
A still from Saraswati's Way 

After spending 12 years in poverty, an ardent devotee of Saraswati (the Hindu goddess of knowledge), Akash decided to take control of his life and attend school where he can pursue his beloved mathematics. But as life had other plans for him, he gets more than what he bargained for. Thereafter begins his great adventure that takes him places and keeps the audiences glued to their seats.

Its director Akarsh Khurana looked behind and beyond the curtains to dramatise this play. Although it might seem that theatre for children is on a slippery slope, the director was assuaged with the current status of theatre and how children received it. According to him, children are the best and the toughest audience — happiest to be entertained and difficult to keep interested. Working with child actors, however, did not seem to be a problem. As on the sets, they were treated as actors and not as children.

"Saraswati's Way has live singing and a lot of the actors actually had no experience in singing. When we were working together, it was quite hilarious, how they struggled with understanding things such as how to keep a tune. So that was a lot of fun. We rehearsed together and got people to compose the music, to advise them about it. What began as a challenge was probably enjoyed the most," recalls the director, in jest.

Till April 24 (12 pm and 4 pm)
At Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu.
Call 26149546

Colours in dance
In 2010, the National Centre for the Performing Arts started Mudra, a dance festival that celebrates the diversity of Indian dance forms. This season, the festival has decided to weave its theme around colours, paying an ode to the importance of colours in India.

Kuchipudi dance by (from left) Vyjayanthi Kashi and Prateeksha Kashi
Kuchipudi dance by (from left) Vyjayanthi Kashi and Prateeksha Kashi 

The festival will commence with yellow, the colour of knowledge and sunlight. According to colour therapists, yellow signifies happiness, enlightenment, optimism and energy. In India, yellow is considered auspicious, derived variously from the medicinal turmeric or the bright yellow marigold.

Mumbai-based artistes Lata Surendra (Bharata-natyam) and Sujatha Nair (Mohiniattam) have woven their part of the evening on yellow, the colour worn by Hindu deities Vishnu and Ganesh. Kathak exponents Abhimanyu and Vida Lal present the colour orange through their duet choreography. The legendary Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saswati Sen have chosen peacock blue and amber, the two colours dear to Lord Krishna for their performance.

Odissi duo Surupa Sen and Bijoyini Satpathy will weave magic through the story of Radha and Krishna using midnight blue that reminds one of the dark night sky as an Abhisarika Radha (when she goes to meet her beloved Lord Krishna).

Kuchipudi legend Vyjayanthi Kashi and her daughter Prateeksha Kashi have chosen the vibrant energy of red as it is regarded as auspicious in many cultures around the world. In the East, it signifies good fortune and fertility. In India, red is associated with "Shakti", the divine feminine cosmic energy according to Hindu mythology, which represents all the dynamic forces in the universe.

Pandit Birju Maharaj at a performance
Pandit Birju Maharaj at a performance 

The festival will also present an opportunity to learn the nuances of abhinaya (expressive techniques) and colours and their interpretation in dance while presenting themed work from Pandit Birju Maharaj. The workshop will explain a few choreographies presented in his performances the previous night.

Watch out for a demonstration on the foot painting traditions in Kuchipudi dance by Vyjayanthi Kashi and Prateeksha Kashi. They will showcase figure dancing, a tradition of drawing pictures with coloured powder on the floor with footwork while dancing. In Mayura Kautvam (a form of Kuchipudi dance), the dancer paints the picture of a peacock, the vehicle of Lord Subramanya, with her rhythmic footwork.

Till April 26, 7 pm
At Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
Call 22824567

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