Murli is a seven-year-old restless Penguin who can’t wait to find out who he’ll be as a grown up. His friends are Sammy the duckling and Rohan the Zebra, who join him in the quest to beat time. On Christmas day, his wish gets fulfilled as he’s able to build a time machine to make a quick trip to the future. And so goes the story of Timeboy, Makrand Deshpande’s play that opened last year at Prithvi Theatre. So why are we telling you this now? Well, Deshpande has now joined hands with another doyen of English theatre, Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, to present special Christmas shows for kids.
The shows, which opened on December 7 at Canvas Laugh Factory, will go on till December 25, with even a special show for underprivileged children on December 20. Deshpande believes it was a stroke of luck that brought him and Mody-Kotwal together. “Both of us have been wanting to work with each other for some time. It just happened that she had these dates and we decided to go ahead with Timeboy,” he says.
As a director, he explains, he was only too happy to have more shows of his play. As for Mody-Kotwal, she says she fell in love with the piece when she saw it at Prithvi Theatre a couple of months back. “It is really a lovely production. Even though it’s a children’s play, I enjoyed it just as much, because it’s rare to see such innocence on stage,” she says, adding that it wasthe sensitivity of the script, written by Nivedita Pohankar, that really touched her.
The one good thing about having a theatre show, is that one can always build on the script and make changes wherever required. And with Timeboy too, Deshpande has made a couple of changes. For one, he has added a number of songs to the shows, to bring in the spirit of Christmas. The other, and a significant change at that, is the use of animals to convey the message. When the play originally opened, Murli was just a seven-year-old boy and not a penguin. “We’re experimenting and enjoying ourselves in the bargain, says Deshpande, who adds that kids love the added visual element of animals. “Even my actors are enjoying themselves, with headgear and make-up, for in every adult dwells a child,” he adds. Hidayat Sami, who plays Murli the penguin, says he’s having his share of fun on stage. “The play also imparts a lovely message, not just for kids but for adults as well. So it’s a production that can be enjoyed by the entire family,” says Sami.
A special show for underprivileged children is also taking place on December 20. “Approximately 300 children from various NGOs like Apun Ka Club, Chip Mumbai, Baljeevan trust among others are expected to attend the show,” says Mody-Kotwal’s son Kaizad Kotwal. The Kotwals, who run the Make A Difference Foundation, open a show every year for underprivileged children and this time, they have picked Timeboy for the same.