Watch this play for a cause

Apr 11, 2015, 08:31 IST | Suprita Mitter

Alibaba, a musical, has been adapted from the literary works of a Bengali playwright who recreated the magic of this classic in 1896. Performed by Mumbai-based Bengali theatre group Anandam, the proceeds from the show will be used for cancer care

The Story of the kind and hardworking woodcutter, Alibaba, who chances upon a secret cave door, where a band of 40 thieves hide their treasure, is something most of us have heard during our childhood.

Alibaba (Abir Banerjee) and Fatima (Munmun Chatterjee); Abdulla (Lucky Mukherji) and Marjeena (Paulomi Chakraborty) at a previous performance
Alibaba (Abir Banerjee) and Fatima (Munmun Chatterjee); Abdulla (Lucky Mukherji) and Marjeena (Paulomi Chakraborty) at a previous performance

This time, the story will come alive in all its grandeur, in a play staged by Mumbai-based Bengali theatre group, Anandam. With a 42-member cast and 18 live musicians, the magnum opus looks at re-creating the magic of the tale on a grand scale.

Revisiting a classic
The entertaining dance-drama has been performed several times in Bengali and will be performed in Hindi for the first time by the group. “Of the 42 cast members, 40 are Bengali. It is unusual for so many Bengali actors to come together to perform a play in Hindi in Mumbai, and for them trying to mouth Hindi (and some cases Arabic) dialogues were new.

We have tried to give the songs an Arabic sound too. The idea of presenting it in Hindi was to allow the play to reach a much wider audience,” says director Lucky Mukherji, who has been associated with theatre for 40 years now. Alibaba was staged in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Pune, last year, and more than 3,500 people watched it.

Most actors are not professional artistes but people who love theatre and also want to contribute to society. “We have CAs, engineers, professors, bureaucrats, media people, and also a few actors who are from film and television background, but most of the cast are amateurs.

The biggest challenge remains co-ordination and rehearsals with so many actors who have different day jobs. We try and rehearse regularly on weekends,” says actor Rajosik Banerjee, who plays Alibaba’s son Hussain in the play and has a day job as a partner at a major consulting firm.

Fund dilemma
Anandam has been staging plays since 1979 and performs to generate funds for cancer patients and education of underprivileged female students. The group donates its earnings from every performance to help needy cancer patients who travel to Mumbai from across India and are unable to fund their food and stay for the duration of their treatment.

Their assistance reaches the beneficiaries through organizations like Ramakrishna Mission, (Mumbai and Kolkata), Bharat Sevashram, (Navi Mumbai), Dr E Borge’s Home for Cancer Patients, (Mumbai, affiliated to Tata Memorial Hospital), Navi Mumbai Bengali Association (Vashi), and Vivekananda Jyoti Seva Kendra, (Thane). During the last decade, they have donated more than R44 Lakhs to these organisations.

“Our actors don’t charge, and we have also been getting a lot of support from friends, families, community and corporates, who sponsor us,” shares Mukherji.

On: April 12, 6.30 pm
At: Tata Theatre NCPA , Nariman Point. 
Call: 22824567
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