What happens when Karl Marx finds himself in Mumbai's business hub of Kalbadevi? Why do people always argue about the greatness and contributions of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi? What do some of the main protagonists of Mahabharata have to say when they wonder aloud?
These are some of the questions that have been tackled by three well-known Gujarati theatre directors for the upcoming Gujarati Natya Utsav at the NCPA. Manoj Shah’s Karl Marx in Kalbadevi, Nimesh Desai's Hu Chhu Mohandas and Mihir Bhuta-scripted Bahot Nachyo Gopal promise a laugh riot and some serious introspection.
Shah for one says the fantasy genre has always attracted him. “I always like to think backwards. I ask — what if — a lot. Marx and his doctrine has been widely read and followed but I feel his principles have been somewhat misinterpreted by many. Through this play, I just want to project his theory of a classless society with a contemporary twist,” he says.
Present day Kalbadevi, the business and trade capital of Mumbai is where the play is set. “In the play, Marx is not surprised seeing capitalism all around. He says he had predicted this much earlier in his book Das Kapital. For more, you have to see the play,” says Shah..
Bahot Nachyo Gopal which will be staged on March 23, has six monologues by Radha, Devki, Sudama, Arjun, Draupadi and Rukmini. Famed writer Mihir Bhuta who has also written the popular play Chanakya, explains, “Writing a monologue for all these characters came naturally as I have read the Mahabharata several times. The play takes you through the different relationships of Krishna with all the key characters.”
When mythology is involved in a play, costume takes centrestage. Leena Shah, the costume designer, says she used a lot of silk fabric, to give the actors a royal look. “I gave the costumes a contemporary look to ensure that they didn’t look over the top” she adds.
In Hu Chuu Mohandas. the concluding play of the festival, the audiences will deal with Gandhian principles in a new light. It is translated by Sangita Shastri from the Hindi piece Godse@gandhi.com written by Asghar Wajahat. Desai, who has directed the play, says though it talks about Gandhian principles, it doesn’t make any value judgment. “The piece interprets Gandhi’s and Nathuram Godse’s convictions without the notions of being right or wrong.”
The themes for all three plays are bold, even controversial in parts. But Desai is confident the audience will love all three due to their fresh takes on the subjects. “We cater to a far more mature audience today,” he signs off.
When: March 22-24, 6.30 pm
Where: Experimental theatre,
NCPA Marg, Nariman Point