Catch a performance that brings classic texts to life with a contemporary touch

Jun 14, 2018, 07:02 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Catch two sets of performances over the weekend that bring classic texts to life with a contemporary touch

Catch a performance that brings classic texts to life with a contemporary touch
A scene from the play's premiere at Prithvi Festival

S for satire LONG after they have made the journey from the writer's mind to the printed word, classics continue to remain open to interpretation, helping readers find solace in them to make sense of the world.

When actor-lyricist Gopal Datt suggested renowned Pakistani humorist Ibn-e-Insha's Urdu ki Aakhri Kitaab to Danish Husain for an adaptation, memories of a work laced with satire came flooding back. "Though Ibn-e-Insha had written about the socio-political realities of Pakistan in the '60s and '70s in the form of a textbook, the work could very well be modified and contextualised in the current times," says Husain, theatre director and poet, who adapted the text to Qissa Urdu ki Aakhri Kitaab ka, a two-actor farcical banter, based on the format of the popular Pakistani talk show, Loose Talk.

Yasir Iftikhar Khan (left) and Danish Husain in rehearsal
Yasir Iftikhar Khan (left) and Danish Husain in rehearsal

The performance premiered at the Prithvi Festival in 2017 with Datt and Husain in the lead, and will be performed in the city for the first time this weekend since the festival opening, with the banter unravelling between Husain and actor Yasir Iftikhar Khan.

Urdu ki Aakhri Kitaab by Ibn-e-Insha
Urdu ki Aakhri Kitaab by Ibn-e-Insha

"I have always been an admirer of Ibn-e-Insha's writing; he had the quality of infusing humour even in travelogues. What sets his works apart is the simplicity with which he put forth his point. He said things in a light-hearted tone, but they carried a lot of depth," says Khan, sharing a few hilarious instances from the original text, which needed minor tweaks. "The author writes that Lady Luck was on emperor Akbar's side. His coronation took place when he was just 13 — unlike Prince Charles, who is still having to wait and watch. We added to the text that he was still waiting even as Prince Harry got wedded, and we were good to go," he adds.

Husain explains that he tried to retain the original text as far as he could. "Whatever was universal and timeless has been left undisturbed," he says. What transpired at the Science Congress a couple of years ago and the state of the Indian education system are some of the contemporary touches he has added to the play. "The farce that Ibn-e-Insha wrote close to 50 years ago looks seemingly true today, and that's the biggest farce," he concludes.

ON: June 16 and 17
AT: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu.
LOG ON TO: bookmyshow. com
ENTRY: Rs 500

Epic twist


Keeping up with the theme of finding inspiration in classics, theatre artiste Abhinav Grover goes back further in history to Ramdhari Singh Dinkar's acclaimed poem, Rashmirathi, which he wrote in 1952. Grover has adapted the poem into a dramatised reading called Krishna-Karna Vartalaap, which he will present as part of his artiste residency at Studio Tamaasha, where he is developing a new work.


"The poem is a dialogue between Krishna and Karna, where the former reveals to Karna that he is Kunti's son. The truth and pathos that the poet weaves into the verse is extraordinary. He touches upon casteism and other issues that remain relevant today," Grover shares.

Abhinav Grover
Abhinav Grover

Another performance to be staged this Saturday, too, dips into the Mahabharata. Written and directed by Grover and performed by Vaishnavi Ratna Prakash, Paanchvaali is Draupadi's candid conversation with goddess Agni, where she speaks about the men in her life and how she feels that all the relationships are incomplete in some way or the other. "The name Draupadi immediately invokes the cheer haran [disrobing] episode from the epic. I wanted to move away from that," Grover explains, adding that the physical language of the play is based on his training in yakshagana, a traditional theatre form from Karnataka and Kerala.

ON: June 16, 7.30 pm
AT: Studio Tamaasha, Versova, Andheri West.
ENTRY: Rs 150

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