Enter the jungle

Jul 04, 2014, 09:01 IST | Ruchika Kher

Experience a magical circle of fun, music and dance as the characters of Panchatantra -- The Musical, transport you to a forest that unfolds different stories, revealing important lessons for life

As kids, most of us must have delved into fascinating tales of the Panchatantra, which were derived from the principles of Artha (sense) and Dharma (duty), teaching us lessons that go a long way in life. But if you missed reading these wonderful folktales then, you can familiarise yourself with the same with Panchatantra — The Musical, a new play produced and directed by Jhelum Gosalia.

The cast of Panchatantra: The Musical practising aerial acts for the play. Pics/Nimesh Dave

As the name suggests, the production threads together five popular Panchatantra tales and adds a twist. “I realised that in India, things are often strictly black or white, yes and no, there is no grey area. So, that’s the first thing that attracted me towards Panchatantra. I also realised that there is a lot more to the Panchatantra than what we had read about as kids,” says Gosalia.

The 26-year-old explains the point made by her through an example. “There is this story of the lion and the rabbit. When you hear it, you hate the lion and love the rabbit; again, good and bad. What we tried to do with the play is to actually humanise the lion, which means that we see the side of the lion, we emphasise with him, and say that look — he had to do what he did, because he had to eat to survive. So, we’re trying to spell out that grey area.”

The play includes 13 songs; a myriad of acts that display aerial talent, contemporary dance skills, and singing. In terms of writing, Gosalia along with her co-director Kallirroi Tziafeta, has not changed anything, “but we have changed the sense of it through improvisation, dance and music,” clears Gosalia, adding that they have brought up the music of the play to a level so that older audiences enjoy it as well.

The cast of Panchatantra — The Musical rehearsing for the play

While Gosalia, a speech and drama teacher, has been a part of theatre almost all her life, she admits that bringing a text like Panchatantra on stage is no mean feat. While finding actors, who can sing, dance and act was a task, the fact that this is her debut production, didn’t make things any easier for her. “Authority is a problem sometimes.

People often don’t take a young person seriously, so getting work done was difficult. Also, rehearsal in such a short time and getting the singing, the dancing, and music right was hard,” specifies the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) graduate.

Similarly, Gosalia couldn’t hide her visible nervousness and admitted that she is scared: “I don’t know how it will be received but I keep telling myself that it’s okay; it will be a learning experience. If I fail, I fail. But I want to do this.”

On: July 12 and July 19, 4 pm and 7 pm 
At: Sophia Bhabha Auditorium, Breach Candy. CALL 9819995319; EMAIL jhelumgosaliaproductions@gmail.com

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