A tale of love and longing from the Mahabharata gets a modern Mumbai twist

Updated: Nov 27, 2016, 12:34 IST | Kusumita Das

A tale of love and longing from the Mahabharata gets a modern Mumbai twist

New York-based actors Samrat Chakrabarti and Purva Bedi during a rehearsal for Shakuntala Awaits in the Big Apple
New York-based actors Samrat Chakrabarti and Purva Bedi during a rehearsal for Shakuntala Awaits in the Big Apple

Isheeta Ganguly’s fascination with the story of Shakuntala can be traced back to her childhood, to the many afternoons she spent with her grandmother, listening to her narrate it over and over again. That fascination has now metamorphosed into her next play, Shakuntala Awaits, which takes the character of Dushyant and Shakuntala, puts them in a metropolis where they live through the trials urban couples face.

Isheeta Ganguly, writer-director
Isheeta Ganguly, writer-director

The themes of the epic love story are intact — the longing, self-doubt, the waiting, notions of memory and the hawk-eyed disdain of society. “The whole idea of the woman being the one waiting, which is at the core of Shakuntala’s story, is still relevant. Also, how does memory behave in such technologically cluttered times,” says writer-director Ganguly, who has cast two Indian actors from New York in the roles of the lovers — Purva Bedi and Samrat Chakrabarti.

The play follows a modern, minimalist setting, with the stage containing nothing more than two chairs, where the lovers sit and read from their respective memoirs, a la Tumhari Amrita. “It’s a truly experimental staging format. My Shakuntala is a young Canadian Indian woman working in Mumbai, who meets Dushyant at a Bandra bookstore, in the ‘spirituality’ section and the story takes off from there. They deal with separation and much more when he goes off to Cambridge. Eventually, he suffers from memory loss that heightens the question marks and the conflict in the tale. But, more than the love story, it’s about Shakuntala realising her identity, which eventually leads to her liberation, the lover notwithstanding. A lot like Rani in Queen,” adds Ganguly.

The behind-the-scenes story of Shakuntala Awaits is no less interesting. The actors, who are still in New York, rehearsed with Ganguly over Skype and Facetime sessions. “They are both seasoned actors. Purva has done shows like The Good Wife, E.R., The Blacklist, to name a few. Samrat also has vast experience, having done shows like Law and Order, The Sopranos and even Deepa Mehta’s film Midnight’s Children. Both of them have read the text and are passionate about their characters. Purva would ask me questions like ‘is she [the character] light and fun?’ Samrat has taken great efforts to navigate the many moods of Dushyant’s character.”

This time, however, Ganguly’s play won’t feature her signature music. “We have only used recorded music this time. Maybe in the later versions, I shall weave in some of my music,” she signs off.

Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA
When: November 30, 7 pm
Entry: Rs 200-Rs 300
Call: 66223737

Sign up for all the latest news, top galleries and trending videos from Mid-day.com

Subscribe
Loading...

Chef Seefah and Diana's funny experiences after moving to India

NEXT STORY
This website uses cookie or similar technologies, to enhance your browsing experience and provide personalised recommendations. By continuing to use our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. OK