This play about a young boy living in a repressive society is a must watch

Sep 07, 2017, 06:42 IST | Krutika Behrawala

A stage adaptation of Richard Crasta's comic-yet-insightful novel, The Revised Kama Sutra, takes you back to India of the 1970s, with a small-town boy coming to terms with his puberty

Sunit Tandon (left) in a still from the play
Sunit Tandon (left) in a still from the play

Anasuya Vaidya heard about Indian- American writer Richard Crasta's The Revised Kama Sutra in 2009, when her late brother who was based in Canada, read it and thought that the novel would make for a great stage adaptation. She decided to produce it for the family's New Delhi-based production house, Akshara Theatre, founded by their parents and eminent theatrewallahs Gopal Sharman and Jalabala Vaidya in 1972. "The book wasn't easily available in India. So, my brother sent it to me. My mother read it first, and excerpted extracts for a dramatised version. In fact, Richard Crasta was present for the first reading, and was thrilled by it," recollects Vaidya.

In 2012, she turned the excerpts into a script when senior advocate Ram Jethmalani invited her to perform it as a play at a seminar of Indian and Pakistani lawyers in Jaipur. Since then, it has been staged across Delhi, and is making its debut in Mumbai tomorrow.

The novel, published over two decades ago, is set in the 1970s. It follows the story of Vijay Prabhu, a small-town, middle-class Indian boy dealing with the frustrations of growing up in a repressed society. Captivated by the American dream, he embarks on a journey to realise his destiny. The book acts as a comical but poignant guide to the Indian experience of puberty, colonialism and nurturing desires that are not easily fulfilled even in the land of the Kama Sutra.

Actors Mahant Shah and Nisa Shetty
Actors Mahant Shah and Nisa Shetty

"The book's narrative is longer. We have focused on Vijay Prabhu's growing up years in Mangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, along with a parallel narrative set in contemporary times with the protagonist in the US. You will relate to his experiences — his relationship with his parents, dealing with puberty, and his views on religion, love and romance. The book touches upon spirituality that forms a part of the narrative, but most of it is lighthearted," says the theatre and television producer-director.

Anasuya Vaidya
Anasuya Vaidya

The cast features 14 members, many of whom have been part of the play since inception. "The lead actor, Sunit Tandon, has helped in the script's evolution by adding colour to his character. So has Nisa Shetty, who sings live on stage," says Vaidya, who decided to infuse the play with popular music of the '70s as 'pop culture did impact a majority of the generation of the time'. While songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond and The Rolling Stones play in the background, Noor Jehan's Abhi To Main Jawan Hun and Mohammad Rafi's Yeh Reshmi Zulfein are performed live.

ON: September 8 and 9, 8 pm
AT: The Cuckoo Club, 5AA Pali Hill, Macronells Compound, Bandra West.
ENTRY: Rs 530

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