Six short stories inspired by O Henry comes to stage in Mumbai

Oct 12, 2017, 13:07 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Six short stories inspired by the classic American writer's wordplay and surprise endings unfold in a contemporary play that premieres on Saturday

It's been over a hundred years since William Sydney Porter, or O Henry as he was known by his pen name, wrote The Gift of the Magi. But the moving tale of love and sacrifice remains a favourite with writers and playwrights across the world. In fact, the music video of Pankaj Udhas's popular song, Aur Aahista Kijiye Baatein, too featured an adaptation of the love story. Now, New York's Jim and Della are set to exchange their Christmas gifts in a cosy Bandra flat, in the play The Drum Roll.

Scenes from The Ritual
Scenes from The Ritual

A bouquet of six short stories, the play is a tribute to Henry with two of his works adapted for the Indian audience - the other one being The Pendulum - while four have been penned inspired by his style of writing. "I wanted to play with the idea of anticipation. I love reading O Henry's short stories for the same reason. He would narrate his stories with a lot of wit and humour and end them in a way that you wouldn't expect," says Aakash Prabhakar, who has written the stories and co-directed the play with Kartavya Anthwal Sharma. "The stories are contemporary tales of love and friendship that the audience can relate to," he adds.

The After Party (about two friends trying to piece together a drunken night)
The After Party (about two friends trying to piece together a drunken night)

Prabhakar made his directorial debut last year with the play Crumpled, which was a compilation of imperfect love stories. "Attention spans are decreasing by the day. The format of the short story is such that when staged, it leaves an impact in the limited duration of 10 to 15 minutes," he explains.

The Ola Share
The Ola Share

One of the stories, The Ritual, is about two best friends who meet on a dinner date once a month to discuss their marriage. "The story resonated with me. In a rushed city like Mumbai, it is a blessing to have a best friend who you can pour your heart out to. You are so involved in your job, paying rent and taking care of your marriage that amidst it all, you need a fresh perspective," says Prashansa Sharma, who plays the lead opposite Prabhakar in the story.

The Ola Share is another
interesting take on how arranged marriages play out when parents insist that the prospects meet at least once. Fed up of such requests, the main characters decide on meeting one last time. "This story revolves around an incident that can happen to anyone," says Abhinav Grover, one of the seven-member cast that also includes Abhishek Chauhan, Chrisann Pereira, Vidyth Gargi, and Pooja Ruparel, best known for playing Kajol's younger sister in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

The title of the play, informs Prabhakar, is not musically inclined. "It symbolises the moment of anxiousness, and pleasure that one would experience just before something grand or twisted is about to happen."

On: October 14, 7.30 pm
At: Studio Tamaasha, Aram Nagar Part 2, Versova, Andheri West
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Entry: Rs 354

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