A comedic curtain raiser

Updated: 11 September, 2020 09:12 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

A theatre company makes its digital debut with an adaptation of a Shakespearean romcom set in '70s Delhi

Shivani Joshi and Shubhankar Mishra are part of the cast
Shivani Joshi and Shubhankar Mishra are part of the cast

Having been in the theatre circuit for 17 years, Stagecraft Theatre, Nagpur's first and only English theatre group, traverses into the digital terrain today. It was a leap for founder Vikash Khurana, but a necessary one to make.

When the lockdown was announced, Khurana was in Mumbai rehearsing for nephew Adhaar Khurana's A Small Family Business at the NCPA, which has now been postponed. But as time progressed, even with "Unlock" phases being announced, he realised that the prospects of staging physical events were grim. Thus, to kick-start production and bring a round of cheer in the process, the group is presenting one of their classic plays, Chehal Pehal, in a digital format today.

Having worked on several Shakespearean adaptations in the past, this one is a take on the romcom Much Ado About Nothing. Set in Delhi of the '70s — bell bottoms and polka dots galore — the story revolves around two couples Kamal and Harini, and Bulbul and Bansi — where families meddle in their respective relationships. "The setting is that of an old house, one half of which is occupied by the owners and the other by the tenants. The action takes place in the common courtyard," Khurana shares.

Vikash Khurana has directed the play and will be acting in it, too
Vikash Khurana has directed the play and will be acting in it, too

The production and the process behind it is interesting, too, because it was filmed in Nagpur last month with social distancing measures in place, and put together on the editing table. Cinema and theatre are vastly distinct mediums, and therefore, it required actors to change their approach to acting. "Since this is a film, you aren't shooting in sequence; wide shots and close-ups are being employed unlike in a theatrical setting. So, it is challenging for actors to remain in character in a disjointed manner," says Khurana. But an advantage, he adds, is that the format brought some cast members to face the camera for the first time, which proved to be a
learning experience.

Given the times, Chehal Pehal, filled with song, dance, fights and bickering with undercurrents of the politics and media of that day and age, is an attempt at bringing a smile on the faces of its audience. Like Khurana says, "It's purely entertaining and comical to the extent that some situations are ridiculous."

On Today 7 pm; September 12, 7 pm and September 13, 4 pm and 7 pm
Log on to bookmyshow.com
Cost Rs 200

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First Published: 11 September, 2020 07:44 IST

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