What happens when two people spend a night together in a bus? Find out

Sep 28, 2017, 12:08 IST | Shraddha Uchil

A new play tells the story of the events that unfolded when two people, unknown to each other, spent a night together on a bus from Goa to Mumbai

"This play has so many magical moments that many won't believe that everything in it actually took place," says Omkar Bhatkar, director of Fly On, a new play by Metamorphosis Theatre Inc that premieres next week. In this 75-minute production, the young man wears many hats. Apart from directing, he has fleshed out the script for the piece. And he plays the protagonist. The character he is essaying? Himself.

Harsh Shah (left) and Omkar Bhatkar rehearse at the latter's residence in Mahim. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Harsh Shah (left) and Omkar Bhatkar rehearse at the latter's residence in Mahim. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

True story
Fly On is unlike any other piece Bhatkar has written. To create it, he hasn't drawn from his imagination. Instead, he has recreated the events that took place on one night — exactly the way they unfolded — when he was aboard a Goa-Mumbai bus. "I travel to Goa every few months. This incident occurred when I visited the sunshine state in February, and was on my way back," says Bhatkar, adding, "I always use Paulo Travels' buses, and they've never once broken down. But that night, the bus broke down not once, but twice. I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence that it was the same night I met an incredible stranger." Over the course of the night, the duo bonded over their love for Oscar Wilde, Coldplay, and the wonders that wait to be discovered in the vastness that is the universe. And somewhere in between all this, there was a spark of love. "But, it's not love as you know it. Watching this play will change your perception of what love means."

Music plays an integral role in the play
Music plays an integral role in the play

Romance for the soul
According to Bhatkar, the intention was never to turn the experience into a play. "I had written it all down, but it was meant to stay on my bookshelf. But once I read it out to a few friends, they felt people needed to see it brought to life on stage," he shares. He was convinced, but then came the difficult task of finding the right actor to play the role of the mysterious stranger. This, he found in Harsh Shah, who had once written a script for Metamorphosis. "He had said at the time that we wanted to work with us, and he seemed perfect for the role," shares Bhatkar. While the play has existential elements that come through in the duo's conversations, the plot is wrapped in a wispy fabric of romance. And you can't have a budding romance without a generous helping of music.

The play will thus feature three tunes by Jason Fernandes, Aldridge D'Souza and Pratiksha Asgaonkar, including a cover of the Coldplay song Fly On, which came up during the conversation that took place that night, and gave the play its name. "All three songs have powerful lyrics and perfectly paraphrase the essence of the play," says Bhatkar.

Finding answers
Did Bhatkar meet the stranger after that night? No, he says, quickly adding that perhaps that's what makes the experience memorable. "We are both people who have their walls up, but on that night, the walls came down. It makes you wonder whether there was any purpose to it. Maybe years will go by before I can find a dot I can connect to this encounter."

ON: October 2 and 7, 7 pm onwards
AT: CLAP, Malad West (October 2); The Drama School: Mumbai, Girgaon (October 7).
LOG ON TO: bookmyshow.com
COST: Rs 250

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