A slice of Kolkata in Mumbai
When With Love, Calcutta, opened in Kolkata in February this year, the critics couldn’t help but be awed by the crude portrayal of the contradictions between the past and present of the city. After four months, the play has come to Mumbai for its inaugural performance at the Thespo Festival.
Stills from the play, With Love, Calcutta, an anthology of several short stories, produced by theatre group, Mad About Drama
Aritra Sengupta, who co-wrote the play with Ayanti Ghosh (the two have also directed the play together), says that the play is an anthology of seven stories and inspired from films like Paris, I Love You, and New York, I Love You. “After we saw the films, we wanted to do something similar in theatre. But it was not until 2013, when we were looking for a script for Thespo that Ghosh and I got together to write With Love, Calcutta,” he informs.
Produced by Mad About Drama, a young theatre company (average age of its members is 22), the play highlights the contradictions that exist within Kolkata and its people. “We (MAD) came together with only one aim — to talk about things that no one wants to, and in the most crude way possible. With Love, Calcutta is one of our attempts to talk about such issues in Kolkata. Every short story presents a contradiction that exists in the city, sometimes it’s about a 15-year-old who refuses to be happy during Durga Puja, or through a father-son confrontation on old and new values,” he says.
Sengupta adds that none of the stories in the play are related, and the only thing connecting them is Calcutta. It also comes with certain references, which those outside Kolkata may not understand, but its theme, he claims, gives the play a universal appeal. “The contradictions, which are highlighted in With Love, Calcutta are what those from every city in the world can relate to — be it confrontations between beliefs of older and newer generations, a growing culture of consumerism, globalisation, changing urban aspirations or migration.
These are some of the issues that every metropolitan city faces,” he maintains, adding, “The fact is that Kolkata isn’t just about Bengalis who have been living there for centuries, but also about people who have migrated from other cities, including Bangladeshis who arrived in the city in the 1970s. It’s about all of them.”
On: July 1, 9 pm and July 2, 11 am
At: Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu.