Calcutta comes alive on stage

A young theatre group wants you to experience the difference between Kolkata and Calcutta

MAD About Drama (MAD), a professional theatre company now, was an initiative started by a few college friends in Kolkata in 2011, with quirky ideas and unconventional stage language. Soumendra Bhattacharya, the founder of the group and an actor in the play, With Love, Calcutta, that they have brought to Prithvi this time, talks about Bombay, Calcutta and the journey of MAD.

A still from the play, With Love, Calcutta
A still from the play, With Love, Calcutta

Q. What does Calcutta (not Kolkata) stand for in the play?
A. The play is an amalgamation of several stories moving back and forth between Calcutta and Kolkata, and the contradictions that make the city so lively. It’s almost as if Kolkata is stuck in a time warp, the transition from the old world charm of Calcutta to the new, ruthless, post-globalisation Kolkata remains incomplete, and the city remains caught up between its past and present.

Soumendra Bhattacharya, founder, MAD
Soumendra Bhattacharya, founder, MAD

Q. How do you expect Mumbai’s audiences to respond to the story?
A. It’s almost as if we are travelling with a piece of Calcutta with us to Mumbai. And the core emotions of the play resonate with each and every one, since it talks about universal contradictions that exist in a cosmopolitan, urban space, something which people in a metropolitan city like Mumbai can immediately relate to. When we performed the play twice in July 2014 at Prithvi, the audience gave us a standing ovation on both occasions. We are hoping that we can connect to Mumbai and its people the same way again.

Q. In context of the complex transition of Indian cities, tell us about your impression of Mumbai?
A. This is our third visit. We had previously performed at Prithvi House in 2012. Mumbai is undoubtedly the city of dreams. Just like Kolkata, it has a pulse. And whether you want it or not, Bombay grows on you. And just like Kolkata and Calcutta, this city remains caught between Bombay and Mumbai.

Q. What’s next?
A. In between hosting full-house theatre evenings, workshops, festivals, creating and premiering new productions, as a group, we are still striving to realise our ultimate dream — to make theatre a sustainable venture for the youth, so that they can create and earn a living from the art form they are so passionate about and be at par in terms of quality with their international counterparts. We are also launching a radio show, The Mad Hour, this month.

On: Today and January 6, 9 pm
At: Prithvi Theatre, 20 Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road.
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Mad About Drama performed their play With Love, Calcutta at Thespo, Mumbai in June 2014 (Read more)

Mad About Drama performed their play With Love, Calcutta at Thespo, Mumbai in June 2014

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