Hayavadana redux

Director Pushan Kriplani explores Girish Karnad's Hayavadana for the third time in ten years, along with co-director Arghya Lahiri. Catch a weekend show of the classic all this month

Answering the first, most basic, question Why Hayavadana? director Pushan Kriplani, one half of the director-duo heading The Industrial Theatre Company and Black Boxers' new production, looks straight in the eye and says, "Ask a real question."

Abhishek Saha, Dilnaz Irani and Neil Bhoopalam in a scene from the play. Pic courtesy/Ameet Mallapur

We insist on an answer though. Surely, there's an interesting story behind why the theatre director goes back to Girish Karnad's Hayavadana time and again. In the past ten years, he tells us, he has dealt with the script three times.

This time Arghya Lahiri, his co-conspirator (read, co-director) is with him on the project to share the challenge. The two have directed plays together in the past and have been friends for many years.
Both consider "the (rehearsal) room" a revered space and are thrilled with the quality their cast and crew has brought to "the room".
In appreciation, the entire team has full access to the espresso machine at Pushan's place and he's also hosted a Burger Night for them. "That's the only reason the actors joined up... Let's face it, you can't pay them what they're actually worth, so you feed the sh*t out of them," he says. Excerpts from the interview:
Why Hayavadana?
Pushan Kriplani: It's a good script. The only reason we do theatre is the text and what we're able to do with it; how we visualise the play in our head. I've done it twice before, this is the third time and I keep coming back to it. The story is not over, not for me.
Arghya Lahiri: There is something about the innate theatricality of the text because of Girish Karnad's preoccupation with folk theatre and Yakshagana. There's so much in one show dolls, clowns, people stepping out of the show... it allows for physicality. There's a lot in there beyond what is vitally an examination of identity and sexuality. There's so much you can do with the play. I think for him (Pushan) it's also an uber text that keeps drawing him back. Me, I just like being in a room working especially with him; on this text, occasionally. But I think this is a text that poses a challenge for him particularly. It's like a set of problems that you can solve and keep coming back to it it's been three times over the course of ten years. Three days before the play was to open, I get a call and he says, "Ten years after we did the play for the first time, I think I might understand what to do with the second act, properly."
PK: I changed the second act a day before the premiere of the play.

Director duo: Pushan Kriplani and Arghya Lahiri. Pic/ Nimesh Dave

You need to have a lot of belief in your actors to do that...
AL: We believe in these guys entirely...
PK: Also, the actors need to have the faith that it's the right idea and not the most novel idea. They're a good room and they've done a good job with imbuing me with those ideas.

What about coming to a consensus between yourselves?
PK: Basically, he just beats me over the head with a large stick! No, we haven't had any fights...
AL: (interrupts) We have fights all the time. But they are restricted to the ideas or the direction we want to go towards. We've grown in a way in which our strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. He's able to leap up and run with an idea and I am seeking something grounded at all times. When it works, it's good tension.
PK: When it comes to the text we're actually without ego. It's possible for us. We've directed some plays together and I have a great deal of respect for Arghya's work.
AL: You're always going to have a point in time during rehearsal when one person is walking around with his jaw very tightly clenched. But it's buried either at the end of the day or in two day's time and you move forward.
PK: You hold grudges for two days!?
AL: It's very close to being an excellent working relationship, it helps that we're very close friends outside the theatre, but it's not the easiest thing in the world. It requires a certain amount of discipline.
PK: It's sexual!!! That's what it is... I shout at him, then he does whatever he wants and then I throw shoes at him.

On December 16-18, 23-25,
30-31, 7 pm AT KR Cama
Auditorium, Kala Ghoda.
passes Rs 250
call 9820745916 or log onto to know more

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