What happens when a man meets his former lover 30 years after he sacrifices his love for her ambitions? How does loneliness creep into a marriage 20 years down the line? These are the questions youth theatre group Abhinay Kalyan chooses to address through its Hindi plays Kona and Wedding Anniversary.
Loaded with satire and laced with cynicism, the plays allow the Kalyan-based group to stay true to their style. “We enjoy performing black comedy. Besides, it is tedious to watch the same kind of plays and we believe these two plays offer a unique insight into relationships,” says Abhijeet Zunjarrao, one of the founders of the youth theatre group Abhinay Kalyan, which is about 25-thespians strong.
The group, whose average age is about 30, has been lauded for its previous performances of the plays. Their rendition of Kona, adapted from Hrishikesh Koli’s Marathi play, won them the first place at this year’s Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan annual inter-collegiate theatre competition.
Based in Kolkata at the time of Durga Puja, Zunjarrao employs music to indicate irony in Kona. “The story revolves around Prabhakar (played by Dirgesh Budhkar) who corners Arundhati (played by Darshana Rasal) 30 years after he leaves her to pursue his dream of becoming a dedicated social worker. In the background you can hear the sounds of Durga being worshipped, while the integrity of another woman is being questioned,” says Zunjarrao, who plays the lead in Wedding Anniversary, has directed and helped adapt both plays from their original Marathi versions
While Kona required a minimal set, designing the sets for Wedding Anniversary was far more challenging. “The play is about a wife who is waiting for her husband to come home to celebrate their 20th anniversary. As our protagonists weren’t together, we had to find a way to show two locations at one time,” says Zunjarrao.
The director-actor believes that being based in Kalyan is the group’s biggest challenge as well as greatest advantage. “As the theatre scene in Kalyan is in its nascent stage, we aren’t exposed to many plays. But this also works in our favour, as we are not inspired by other people’s work. Our sets, music, content, lighting are all original,” adds Zunjarrao.