The magic phrase "Open Sesame" is a big hint about a play written by Bengali playwright, Kshirod Prasad Vidyavinod, and adapted by theatre group Anandam. In 1897, Vidyavinod turned the well-known tale from One Thousand and One Arabian nights into a Bengali musical titled Alibaba. A little info on Vidyavinod — he was a chemistry teacher by profession, whose interest in theatre led him to write plays that were box-office hits, before the rise of modern Bengali theatre.
A scene from Alibaba staged by Anandam
Much like the chemistry-theatre enthusiast, Anandam is a collective of non-theatre professionals, who regularly stage plays. The actors are mainly senior corporate executives, and it was formed in 1979 by 70-year-old Lucky Mukherjii, a former marketing professional. While the 56-member group is composed only of Bengalis, who are known to have a natural well-known affinity to Bengali theatre, the group has of late been staging Hindi plays as well.
In this two-and-a-half hour adaptation of Vidyavinod's five-and-a-half-hour long play, which has been staged previously at NCPA, there will be song and dance in addition to intrigue and mystery. "We chose to stage Alibaba since it has a good mix of romance and suspense," says Mukherjii. But, there will be only 10 thieves. "We don't have enough cast members for it," he adds.
Overall, the group has staged 15 full-length plays, and 25 one-act shows, without making profits. The proceeds are used to fund various causes, and this time, the cause is to fund a block of 23 girls' toilets being built in parts of Chembur, Thane and Malad by the Rotary Club of Bombay Sea Coast. "We have noticed that girls drop out of school because of lack of toilets. With the proceeds of this event, we wish to build not just toilet blocks, but also provide sanitary napkins and napkin incinerators. Anandam and Rotary share a similar outlook on the society," says Sampath Iyengar, President of the Rotary Club of Bombay Sea Coast.
Where: St Andrews Auditorium, St Dominic Road, Bandra West
When: January 31, 6.30 PM
Entry: Rs 500 – Rs 2,500