From the New York of the 1960s to a locality in Bandra, the new adaptation of The Price seems to have undergone a change. But Vikram Phukan, who has adapted the play to a contemporary Indian milieu, assures us that the experience will be like that of watching the original. “It’s an authorised adaptation, so we are calling it Arthur Miller’s The Price,” explains Phukan. The play, which is the first production of Behulas Theatre, will premiere at St Andrew’s College in Bandra, today.
Shubhrajyoti Barat, who saw an adaptation of the play in Bengali over a decade ago, has directed the play. “He liked it. It impacted him, and when we were thinking of plays that should open our production house, he suggested The Price,” reveals Phukan.
The play is a story of two brothers who have been estranged for over 15 years and are now meeting to sell off a common property — a loft full of furniture in a house they grew in. There is a lot of resentment between the two, which slowly gives way to a clearer understanding of themselves and their mistakes owing to a furniture dealer who acts as a catalyst between them.
At first, Barat wanted the play to be adapted in an Anglo-Indian setting in Kolkata, but Phukan was not too comfortable with that as it was an area, he was unfamiliar with. Then, he suggested setting it in Mumbai, in Bandra and that’s how the play came to be set here. “Places like Bandra and Malad, that feature in the play, are identifiable to Mumbaites,” he says.
Apart from the setting, the dialogues and the language have also been changed to some extent. “But when you watch it you get a sense of watching the original. It is a seamless adaptation,” assures Phukan.
When quizzed about whether these changes will affect the play, he says, “A Jewish furniture dealer has become a furniture dealer from Dongri. We have tried to make the play such that though it fits in the Indian milieu, it retains the original ethos,” explains Phukan.
It took them about a month to adapt the play and another month for rehearsals. The rehearsals were extensive, as they wanted to ensure that their first production was well- received. “It is a polished piece of work, which matches the original; we hope it is appreciated. We are trying to present a vintage classic to Mumbai’s theatre lovers,” concludes Phukan.