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Power play on stage

Social activist Anna Hazare’s tirade against corruption has proved to be an inspiration for television czars and filmmakers.

So while actor Rajeev Khandelwal prompted us to open up about our fight against corruption in his reality show Sacch Ka Saamna — Bhrashtachaar Ke Khilaaf, Akshaye Khanna represented an angst-ridden common man caught in the whirlwind of politics in his movie Gali Gali Chor Hai.

Now, acclaimed playwright Rahul Da Cunha and standup comic and writer Anuvab Pal attempt to look at the humane side of corrupt individuals in their new production The Bureaucrat.


Neil Bhoopalam and Bugs Bhargava Krishna in The Bureaucrat

The play revolves around a bureaucrat (played by Bugs Bhargava Krishna) and his son VJ Dishoom (played by Neil Bhoopalam) who works with MTV.

The bureaucrat is called upon to control the situation when his son threatens to hold a dharna outside Janpath, New Delhi to fight against corruption with his friends and take off their chaddis. The production also stars Anu Menon, Jaswinder Singh, Aseem Hattangady, Natasha Azad and Sukant Goel.

The story’s basic idea stemmed from a piece that Pal had written in 2010 for One One One, a venture that provides a platform to new playwrights, held by Da Cunha’s theatre company Rage. Pal says, “The story was about a bureaucrat who is nostalgic about losing power.

That character stayed with me and I wanted to put him in a recent crisis for this new play. Last year was an interesting time in the history of Indian politics as an ageing government had to keep up with a young protest movement. So I thought why not merge the two?”

However, there were several challenges he faced. “Before penning the play, I asked myself, ‘What was the kind of human-interest story I could explore, which hasn’t already appeared in the media?’ What makes The Bureaucrat interesting is how a corrupt individual, who is a good man at heart, deals with the situation,” he explains.

What attracted Da Cunha to the story was the fact that it dealt with diverse themes like corruption, and how music channels are changing their strategy to appeal to viewers.

He explains, “MTV is no longer a music channel. The Bureaucrat highlights how Dishoom, who speaks English, is compelled to host in Hindi. These are issues young people are grappling with and that is what appealed to me.”

The fact that Da Cunha and Pal have worked together earlier in different productions also helped. They first collaborated at Writer’s Bloc 2 in 2006, when Da Cunha invited Pal to replace a participant who had dropped out. “Anuvab and I are friends. Our relationship is based on trust.

Since I have been a writer myself I can empathise with him. He knows that when I ask him to rewrite something or do away with a certain part, I am suggesting it for the betterment of the production,” feels Da Cunha.

Pal couldn’t agree more. He adds that their interest in stories about political figures and back-end deals in the corridors of power has prompted them to collaborate frequently.

At: Sophia Bhabha Auditorium on April 8 at 7.30 pm
book: For tickets, log on to www.bookmyshow.comĀ 

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