The bubble seller, 160619

June 16, 2019

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He sells ephemeral pleasures
Gently float the bubbles.

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Perhaps, in their rainbow colours
He, too, forgets his troubles.

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There could be birds verse than this…

June 16, 2019

I expected an Egret
But I had no regrets
At seeing a Heron Black-crowned.
Though everyday birds
May usually fill my words
It’s good when the unusual is found!

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It was the June 3rd Sunday outing of Bngbirds and a gathering of members of the Telegram group, Bangalore Wildlife Friends. We sighted 20 birds and we were 61 people!

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Every day heroism

June 13, 2019

In the past week, I have spent time with: someone bravely going through a painful divorce, someone recovering from a stroke, that someone’s daughter who’s taken the load on her shoulders, someone who’s taken care of his father and family through the father’s severe illness, and struggled to get ahead in academics (and succeeded in both), someone who’s been swindled by family members, and is trying to bounce back, someone whose children may lose their vision, someone who is dealing with a spouse’s cancer..and perhaps others whose secret trials and burdens I will never know.

Heroes? I walk among them.They are everywhere, my every single day heroes and heroines. Everyday bravery, that is silent, is the toughest bravery of all.

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The most absurd doctor visit of my life, 120619

June 12, 2019

I have been suffering from a sore throat for about three weeks now and had to stop my evening swim. I’d gone to one ENT specialist, but a course of antibiotics and decongestants did not help, So I decided to take a second opinion.

I went to someone who was recommended. WITHOUT looking at my throat, after I had described my symptoms, he asked me my blood group and when I said A+, he said all A+ “types” have acid reflux, that’s what I have. I said NO, I don’t have acid reflux. We argued about this for a while, then he finally said, it could be “hidden”.

Then he said I probably have high blood pressure. I said NO, I don’t have it. I asked him to check my b.p. It was 120/80. “Borderline”, he said. Then he said, “You probably have thyroid problems.” I said I’d had it tested recently, NO, I don’t have it. “Things can change in a month,” said this cheerful guy. I repeated that I am active and do not feel that I have hyperthyroidism. “You might have hypothyroidism,” he said. I was about to say NO and I just gave up.

“Are you losing weight?” he asked. I said, on the contrary, I’ve gained a little weight but am not worried about it. “You might have hypothyroidism,” replied the optimist. After the examination, he told me I have a deviated septum and find it hard to sleep on my left side…which is generally how I sleep most comfortably. Then he started talking about how this area was 35 years ago.

I just paid my Rs.500 and walked out before he diagnosed heart trouble, diabetes, or perhaps cancer. Another ten minutes and he would have sent me to the ICU…. or for cremation.

I have not exaggerated anything (except the last sentence) ; this is what actually happened.

Theatre Review: “Ultimate Kurukshetra” by Actors Ensemble, Ranga Shankara, 060619

June 10, 2019

The two Hindu epics are majestic pieces of literature, grand in their sweep of space and time; they stand as beacons of moral and ethical values, and we generally hold them in awe and reverence. We certainly do not associate them with humour, or light-heartedness.

So, when I got an email from Ram Ganesh Kamatham about his award-winning play, “Ultimate Kurkshetra” which deals not with the forefront, and the heroes of the Mahabharata, but of the very ordinary people who populate the fringes of the army on the eve of the great war of Kurukshetra, I was intrigued and rushed off to watch.

Ultimate Kurukshetra, RS, 060619, Citizen Matters

The first attraction was the sumptuous “ratha” (chariot) that stood on the stage, with several weapons such as the mace, spears and so on. When the play started, Yuyutsu, that single Kaurava who suffered pangs of conscience before the war, appeared, and took the trip to bathos with his announcement that he was called “Yuyu” for short! The other characters then took the stage: Sudarshana the warrior and Adi, his charioteer, who have been issued a chariot but no horses (Adi has been given a token and a promise of payment after the war!). Daksha, the mahout, who is busy calculating just how much poop and dung all those horses and elephants on the battlefield will generate. Maya, the courtesan, who wants to be paid for her work last night…and whose relationships with other men are slowly revealed, the last one being the high point or climax on which the interval happens. And most delightful of all, just as Adi says, “This is a battlefield, I don’t see people wandering around”…there comes Vyasa himself, in a hilarious camp version, prancing through the battlefield as if it were a field of lilies, making observations that had the audience in splits, sporting a peacock-feather pen and a palm-leaf to write on.

Incident follows hilarious incident. Daksha has devised an elephant-head mask (it’s that of a young elephant) that will prevent the war elephants from trampling on the warrior wearing them, even though the elephants themselves seem to have been conscripted from various other callings in temples and zoos! The mask is too small, and gets stuck on Sudarshana’s head, prompting Vyasa, in one of his numerous appearances, to say that he’s been looking for a scribe to write the epic (or as he calls it in true Malayali style, “yepick”!) and (with a sideways look at the so-called elephant) that he seems to have found one. Some important incidents from the epic are referred to, such as the lacquer house built by Purochana for the Pandavas, which is burnt to the ground to kill them off; Bheeshma’s “iccha mrithyu” or death at his own wish; But through all the comedy runs the thread of deep philosophy: “When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets hurt” is one line that has stayed with me well after the play. Another beautiful and moving sequence is when Sudarshana describes how he, too, heard Krishna giving the Geetopadesha to Arjuna.The words showed the playwright’s prose rising to poetry.

The play winds on to a very satisfactory conclusion, with Maya also entering the battle as a warrior, equal to the men she has been dealing with. As the conch of war sounds, Vyaas in his batik top and pista-green dhoti sums up the premise of the play, and Yuyutsu reappars to state it: the ultimate Kurukshetra is not a battle in the distant past, it is a battle in every day of our lives, with the choices we make.

Enjoying and laughing my way through the performance did not prevent me from noticing and appreciating the technical aspects of the production. First of all, even before we entered the theatre, the excellent three-page brochure gave us an introduction to the cast and crew, and what we should expect in the two hours ahead. The play won the Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting in 2011. Apart from the information about the cast and crew of the play and about the group itself, I enjoyed the director’s note about the rasas to be found in the Mahabharata, and how he came to write the play, with a “notable absence of grandstanding champions, and a surfeit of flawed, under-equipped and everyday heroes doing their best to get by in a very challenging situation”.

The stage design was done so that the cast could move backwards and forwards, to the side and centre of the stage, easily. The properties and production values were lavish and unstinted: the weapons, the golden chariot (alas, no horses to move it!) all added to the effect.

The costumes, too, showed that a lot of thought had gone into them…the photograph I have posted here, of the cast taking their bow after the performance, shows the spectrum of colours which made the costumes a visual spectacle.The dhotis, the courtesan’s robes, the armour…all were well-designed and added to the eye appeal while not hindering the movements of the artistes.

Indeed, movement was something there was a lot of. Well-choreographed fight sequences (and most of the fights except perhaps the sequence of Arjuna and his bow, Gandiva, were not of the great war, but skirmishes amongst the characters, as personal frictions came in the way of being united as a part of the Kaurava army), the amorous moments between Maya, Sudarshana and Adi, they all flowed smoothly.

I must say that in the performance I watched, there was some fluffing of dialogues by the characters who played Daksha and Sudarshana; my daughter and son-in-law, who watched the play the next evening, reported much less of such glitches. In the main, though, the dialogues and the punch lines were well-delivered, and the audience’s laughter showed their enjoyment.

The sound design, and the music, added to heighten the denouement of the play, and were very effective indeed, without resorting to the usual noises that sometimes accompany comedy on the stage.

The lighting was also excellent. Highlighting and general lighting, some strobe effects and other areas were handled very well, evoking the battlefield in both its majesty, and its bathos.

I must,however, add that not everyone in the audience liked the play equally; my daughter’s friend,it appears, was “quite disgusted” and said that she did not like the great epic being thus parodied. Different opinions for different people, of course… I must say that I enjoyed the humour and the dialogue very much! I happen to think that a good satire pays its own tribute to the majesty of the original.

All in all, a rollicking run through the prelude to the great war of Kurukshetra, which yet showed up human frailties, egos and the interplay of personalities, and put forward, at the end, the truth that with every choice we make, we fight our own Kurukshetras every day.

Looking forward to the next play from the pen of this talented playwright!

“Ultimate Kurukshetra” by Actors Ensemble
Duration: 120 min with a 10 min interval
Written and directed by Ram Ganesh Kamatham
Designed and Produced by Mallika Prasad Sinha
Language: English
6 and 7 June, 2019, Ranga Shankara

Cast:
Vyasa: Anil Abraham
Adi: Harish Seshadri
Sudarshana: Karn Malhotra
Daksha: Anirudh Acharya
Maya: Mallika Prasad Sinha
Yuyutsu: Ram Ganesh Kamatham

Costumes: Sankeerthi Aipanjiguly
Backdrop and Daksha’s house: Prasanna D
Chariot and Floor: Sridhar Murthy
Tracks: Aman Anand, Snehal Pinto
Sound: Shashank
Make-up: Uma Maheshwar
Props: Ullas Hydoor
Lights: Naveen M G
Front of House: Vinay Shastri
Stage Manager: Lekha Naidu

Poster Design and Illustrations: Sachin Jadhav
Stills and Video: Cletus Rebello
Backstage Crew: Disha Rao, Srinivas Gowda, Prashanth M, Lakshyaraj Rathod
Venkatraman Balakrishna and Meera Sitaraman provided “Gandiva”

Patrons: Dr Vibha Prasad, Mrs Pratibha Prasad, Rahul Raghuram, Shantanu Prabhu, Swaroop Srinath.

You can see the trailer

here

Suitable for audiences over 13 years
Tickets: Rs.200.

Eid at Fatima’s home, 050619

June 6, 2019

Fatima (in the lehenga..she’s 20, can you believe it?) teaches K1 Hindi. She invited us over for Eid and, with her family, extended such warm hospitality!

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Fatima, her parents and brother Zain, with K1 and K2

When we got home, I explained to the children how Imitiaz, her father, had fallen on hard times and had to shut his tailoring shop. The children have just brought out some toys that they want to give Zain, her 7-year-old brother.

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The feast at Fatima’s
I am very proud of of Fatima, who works in an office; and I am very proud of my grandchildren. This warmth and inclusiveness is what Eid, or any other festival, is all about.

A couple of laughs

June 6, 2019

I love laughing and treasure every sudden gem that I come across. Here’s a great one from the “middle” in the Deccan Herald of Tuesday, June 4, 2019, by Indu Suryanarayan, who decided to learn music at the then-recently-opened Ayyanar College of Music on Vani Vilas Road, Bangalore:

“I bought a four-and-a-half shruti bamboo flute (to learn from Sri Doreswamy)…. Every morning, I left after coffee my flute in hand. On the way, if I encountered toddlers following their mother’s advice to answer nature’s call squatting by the roadside, I would use my flute to hit them on the head and ask them to go and do it inside.” It makes me wonder what else the poor flute was used for!

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Having got up at 1.30am to do some ironing, I justtttt shut my eyelids after the alarm rang at 5.30am. I believe in the theory of relativity, because just a fraction of a second later, it was 6 am. This entry is especially for Srikanth, to whom it happened yesterday!

Tansen, by Trialogue: Ranga Shankara, 010619

June 4, 2019

It’s not common to have plays about music, or musicians; so when Ranga Shankara announced that Trialogue, a Delhi-based theatre group, would be staging “Tansen” on 1st June, ’19, I was very keen on attending.

The introduction on the Ranga Shankara website was also tantalising. Dhurpad, khayal, and kathak to be part of the production…that would be very unusual indeed! So off I went, with my friend Jayashree (who also learnt classical music from me…we did form a fairly critical duo in the audience.)

Even before the play started formally, the strains of the tanpura and the semi-humming, semi-singing caught our attention, and I hardly chatted with my friend as the music took hold of me. And when the two singers introduced themselves, and the accompanists, to the audience, they started a production that kept the audience spellbound for the duration of the performance.

As they told us, the play is about the search, both internal and external, that every creative artiste goes through…the journey for that elusive something that will, in satisfying the search, terminate it too. In this case, the search was Tansen’s and the dichotomy was “ibadat” (worship) and “ishq” (love) and the ability to know one from the other, even as one turns into the other.

Tansen, born in a Hindu family as Ramtanu to Parvati and Makarand in Behab near Gwalior, is brought up by Gaus Baba, a fakir who sends him to Brindavan to learn music from Swami Haridas. He journeys into the forests for a musical riyaaz before being spotted by the King of Rewa, Raja Ramchandra Singh, where his musical expertise gains widespread fame. His music gains the attention of Emperor Akbar and Raja Ramchandra is forced to send him to the Moghul court where his melodious aptitude earns him the title ‘Mia Tansen.’ However, his ego supervenes,and he loses to the young musician, Baiju Bawra.

But through the journey of the ibadat of his art are woven the threads of ishq: His first love, Taani, plays an important if episodal role in his life; and later, he meets and marries Hussaini. His love is punctuated by questioning and guilt; it forms the fabric of his evolution as a musician, too.

The play was studded with many songs; in the Dhrupad and Khayal formats, and there was one sequence where the musicians had the audience singing musical phrases along with them, in an interactive session. Ridhima, apart from essaying several roles, stood out as a kathak dancer, quite apart from her singing and her acting skills. The percussion (in the performance that I watched, the same person played the tabla and the pakhawaj.) and the harmonium accompanists showed that they, too, were acccomplished musicians.

The set design was very simple; three raised platforms, the centre one being occupied by the two vocal singers, and the two side ones by the players of the percussion and the harmonium, respectively (I am giving all the names at the end of this write-up.) The characters moved in choreographed sequences across the stage, and, once or twice, into the audience space as well. The narrative flowed smoothly, with three of the cast members slipping in and out of various character roles.

The costume design was both elegant and true to the ethnic and historic sensibilities of the play. Flowing robes, beautiful colours alternating with white; a series of beautiful dupattas for the young woman in the various roles she played, and turbans for the men…all the cast were barefoot, but we did not miss the “jootis” at all. The bare feet and the ghungroos, indeed, were essential for the dancer to beat out the rhythms during the Kathak interludes.

The sound system contributed a lot to the punch of the play; whether “sotto voce” singing or loud-throated warbling, whether the “bol” or the note-phrases, they all carried across the acoustic-rich space of Ranga Shankara, carrying clearly right up to the last rows. The intensity or softness of the sounds or the music helped build up the tension of the narrative, as Tansen gathers in temporal power, turning from Tanu to Mian Tansen, wrestles with his personal dilemmas, and yet allows his “I” to eclipse his humility.

The lighting design was also executed flawlessly. Whether general lighting, or highlighting of one or more characters, whether it was the blood red of passion or the colours of quietitude, the lighting “choreography” did not falter.

A big bow to the performers themselves. There was any amount of both rehearsed dialogue and improvisation, quite apart from the lyric-heavy music; even when the characters referred to the improvisation, they were following the narrative in that the ending of the play was referred to, and the denouement started from that very point. The physical movement, the rise and fall of the melodies, the various ragas expressed in the khayal and dhrupad compositions…they floated the audience along on a musical river of delight. As actors, the cast held the audience in the palm of their hand, and often elicited exactly the response that they wanted, from them. Their comic timing was also fine-tuned and the laughter from the audience was spontaneous and sustained.

The singing was excellent. Of course, the quality of the singing must, of necessity,be better when the singers are seated, than (as happened with the young woman dancer) if they are moving, or dancing; so Ridhima’s singing did occasionally fall short of the high standards that the others in the cast themselves set. But it was more than adequate for the purposes of the performance, and one could not help admiring the wonderful combination of talents in her…dance, music, acting, and a beautiful stage presence, with a mobile, expressive face and graceful movements. Sangeeta, natya and nataka combined well.

The play built up to the point where the arrogance of Tansen is subdued by Baiju Bawra; and as the denouement happened, and Tansen began to hark back to the earlier par, and love, of his life, the ending was satisfactory and well-marked. The audience gave the performers,both cast and crew, a standing ovation.

I must also add a word of praise for the excellent brochure that Trialogue distributed to all the members of the audience, and where a small piece of paper was attached so that the patron could fill in personal contact co-ordinates and a feedback about the performance. As either a member of the audience or a reviewer, I did not have to wonder about names, or their spellings; and the contribution of each member of the group was clearly stated. Trialogue, take a bow for your professionalism in every department.

The creative spirit of Sudheer permeated the play: playwright, actor, singer, designer, director…to me, the play seemed as much about Sudheer as about Tansen!

Any nits that I have to pick? I was not very sure of the reason, or the efficacy, of the puffs of smoke that were released from time to time! And somehow, to my cliche-ridden mind, it was disappointing never to have a tanpura on the stage at all. Yes, I agree, these are small nits….

In all, one of the very good pieces of theatre that I have watched recently, and I do hope Trialogue comes again to Ranga Shankara, with this, and other productions.

Tansen, by Trialogue
120 min. (without interval)
Language: Hindustani/Urdu, with a few other languages interspersed

Cast:
Mohammed Faheem
Ridhima Bagga
Sudheer Rikhari
Sudip Chowdhury- Tabla, Tanpura and Percussion
Roman Das- Pakhawaj
Manish Kumar/Daksh Raj Sharma- Harmonium
Anil Mishra- Sarangi and Harmonium

Playwrights: Mohammed Faheem and Sudheer Rikhari
Inspired by Girish Chaturvedi’s novel, “Tansen”
Choreography and Costumes: Ridhima Bagga
Music: Sudheer Rikari

Music Credits:
Tero gun gaawe : (lyrics and composition) Pt Vinay Chandra Maudgalya
Moorat mann bhaaye: (lyrics and composition) Gundecha Brothers
Sur mein rame tu hi: (lyrics) Gundecha Brothers
Har shai pe tera noor hai : (Composition) Pravesh Mallick
Jaagiye Gopal”, Shubh mahoorat, Laal Gopal, Aavan keh gaye : Traditional Dhrupads and Khayal compositions

Stage Management: Sanjay Makhija
Assistant: Deepak Rana
Lights: Rahul Chauhan
Design and Direction: Sudheer Rikhari
Special thanks to: Parvatiya Kala Kendra
Supported by: Sri Ajay Rao

June 1, 2019, 3.30 and 7.30pm

Tickets: Rs.300

You can read another review which talks more about Trialogue and the creation of the play

here

The Father, Theatre Review from the Deccan Chronicle

May 31, 2019

Walking into Ranga Shankara for Naseeruddin Shah’s “The Father”, all I see is a minimalist stage and a few pieces of furniture. Rooms and doors have been marked with tape on the ground, like those we see in blueprints. I will later realise that this was a very brilliant and clever set designed by Anuradha Parikh Benegal and Ratna Pathak Shah.

It feels different already; as the first act ensues you think you know what’s happening.

Andre (Naseeruddin Shah’s) is old and wishes to live in his apartment without any carers. He seems confused when his daughter Anne (Heeba Shah) says that she is planning on moving to London to be with her lover, and that he is making it hard for her to leave — especially now that his latest carer Isabel, has accused him of physically abusing her (which he denies). He doesn’t understand why his daughter is mad at him when it all just seems like a simple misunderstanding.

Fade to black.

Scene two is when I realise there was more to the introductory scene than meets the eye. Andre is trying to call his lawyer (or his daughter) when suddenly a man who calls himself Pierre (Sahil Vaid) enters the apartment.

A perplexed Andre (and audience) wants to know who this is. Pierre introduces himself as Anne’s husband of five years. ‘But wasn’t Anne going to go to London?’

However it seems this information is foreign to Pierre, and that’s when Anne (Bhavna Pani) comes home from the market.

Pierre doesn’t recognise her, neither does the audience.

This is when the feeling of unease sets in, is this Anne real, or was it the first one?

It is here that the director has wonderfully woven in the entire crux of the play and you just begin to realise, maybe the director is suggesting that Andre may have dementia.

He is getting years and faces in his life mixed. He has forgotten about what happened to his younger daughter Eloise, his favourite as he claims. He has forgotten a lot it seems.

And that’s where the beauty of the play lies.

Andre struggles in the most basic aspects of his daily life, you feel his struggles, you experience just a tiny bit of what it must be like to not remember things that are so essential.

You feel his helplessness when Anne doesn’t trust him to be capable enough to take care of himself.

In one scene when Anne (Heeba Shah) talks to Pierre (Faisal Rashid) about Andre’s days as a policeman, she says, “I used to be afraid of him you know? And now I sang him a lullaby and put him to sleep, his mouth open, so peaceful, like a child”. It makes you truly feel what Andre must have felt — to have become a shell of a man he once was.

Shah essays the role of Anne with panache. She is strong yet sensitive and holds her own despite Andre not appreciating her efforts. Always asking about Eloise, he seems almost cruel to Anne, complaining to his carer Laura (Trishla Patel), “She never touches alcohol. That’s why she’s so sober.”

Naseeruddin Shah takes us on a ride with his acting. The audience feels his anger, confusion, pain and when he laughs you just want to chime in. His anguish over losing control makes you feel just as helpless, leaving you in tears.

When Andre sees faces or hears information he seems to have never been exposed to, he reassures others (although it seems more for him) that he is well aware of everything that is happening.

While it seems Andre’s relationship with Anne is very strained, in times of need, he looks just for her; she is his constant, the only reality he can trust.

Naseeruddin Shah’s Motley Theatre Group has done complete justice to Florian Zeller’s brilliant play Le Pere, translated to English by Christopher Hampton. The changes in the set and the progression of the script take the audience on a journey of the mind’s slow progression into the land of oblivion — dementia.

The set often changes, with pieces of furniture being added or taken away, allowing us to experience Andre’s scattered thoughts and memories. The stage execution, carried out by Jairaj Patil and his crew, takes mere seconds to effectuate when the lights go out.

The sound design by Sahil Vaid is amazing, with the sound effects being timed so perfectly that I was waiting for a glitch, but there were none. The light design by Arghya Lahiri is clever and highlights the changes in mood, time of day and the plot progression onstage.

The Father, by Florian Zeller
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Staged by Motley

Set Design Consultant, Anuradha Parikh, assisted by Nimita Sheth, Roshin Sawant
Set Design: Arghya Lahiri, Ratna Pathak Shah
Set execution Jairaj Patil
Light design Arghya Lahiri
Light execution Amogh Phadeke, Rahul Rai, Mayur Shroff
Sound Design Sahil Vaid
Sound operation Dhruv Kalra, Sahil Vaid
Costumes Marvin Dsouza
Hair Sushil Charles of Smashh Salon)
Backstage Ramesh, Dwarika, Prakash
Publicity designed by Punit Gandhi
Still photography Mayur Shroff, Manish Mansinh
Media Consultant Kajal Gadhia Budhbhatti
Producer Jairaj Patil
Co-director Ratna Pathak Shah
Director Naseeruddin Shah

Cast:

Andre: Naseerudddin Sha
Anne: Ratna Pathak Shah/Heeba Shah
Man: Sayan Banerjee/Sahil Vaid
Woman: Bhavna Pani/Prerna Chawla
Laura: Trishla Patel/Prerna Chawla/Jaya Virlley
Pierre: Faisal Rashid
Acknowledgements Chandu Shah, Paresh Rawal, Jyoti Subhash, Dr Harish Shetty and Yashwant Rao Natya Mandir

Time: 2 hr 20 min, with a 10 min interval.
Tickets: Rs.750

Heeba Shah’s wooden acting spoilt the show. The brochure provided was beautifully made and very informative.

Tansen: Theatre Review from the Hindu

May 31, 2019

Watch a play covering the various aspects of this 16th Century musician’s life

In a little less than two years, The Trialogue Company has had 30 shows of its Hindi play Tansen. It was first staged in July 2017 at NSD, in New Delhi. It took playwrights Sudheer Rikhari and Mohammad Faheem six months to hone the script and meticulously sew classical melodies into this period musical that portrays Tansen in a novel light.

“I was inspired by Girish Chaturvedi’s 1973 novel Tansen which revealed many unknown facets of this 16th Century musician’s life in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar. It speaks of several aspects of his persona and life, and to present it on stage became my dream,” says Sudheer Rikhari, who is also behind the design, direction, music and production of the play.

The play has three lead actors — Mohammad Faheem, Sudheer Rikhari and Ridhima Bagga — apart from musicians singing live. “We will have the pakhawaj maestro Roman Das, a student of Gundecha Brothers, and Daksh Raj Sharma on the harmonium, travelling to Bengaluru for this show. We believe in live instruments and live voices on stage for this play,” shares Sudheer, a science graduate with a Masters in Hindustani classical and a passion for theatre.

Tansen, born in a Hindu family as Ramtanu to Parvati and Makarand in Behab near Gwalior, is brought up by Gaus Baba, a fakir who sent him to Brindavan to learn music from Swami Haridas. Even as Tansen’s first love Taani makes poignant entries into his life often, he journeys into the forests for a musical riyaaz before being spotted by the King of Rewa Raja Ramchandra Singh, where his musical expertise gains widespread fame. His music gains the attention of Emperor Akbar and Raja Ramchandra is forced to send him to the Moghul court where his melodious aptitude earns him the title ‘Mia Tansen.’ “How he marries Hussaini and his high appraisal of his self-worth sees him lose to the young musician Baiju Bawra, closes on a story infused with worldly lessons,” says Sudheer, who adds the play would also have an audience interaction.

As many as 16 songs will be presented in the course of the play, which has a duration of nearly 110 minutes and an almost continuous background score. “We have compositions by Gundecha Brothers, Pravesh Mallick and Vinay Chandra Mudgal sung by singer-actors Sudheer and Mohammad. It also includes melodies ranging from Dhrupad, Qawwali and Hori to Khayal Gaayaki accompanied by instruments,” says Ridhima, a Kathak artiste, who curated the choreography and costumes for Tansen.

“Although we have performed at the Theatre Olympics at Kalagram in Bengaluru in 2018, we are looking forward to the theatrical performance at Ranga Shankara on June 1 where we have two shows slotted,” she adds.

The play is a ruminative and absorbing journey of an artiste. “A portryal of the see-saw of emotions in the life of Tansen,” says Sudheer, going back to his dialogues in the play which are an introspection of what made Tansen great. What was the musician’s life-long quest — worship of his art or the ever-elusive emotional bond of true love? “The play begins with a dilemma over ‘Ibadat’ and ‘Ishq’ – what is worship and what is love?” he adds.

There are a few historical accounts of Tansen’s life on record. “We culled facts from Chaturvedi’s book for this musical. Many are not aware of his affair with his teenage muse Taani and subsequent marriage to Hussaini. This gripping tale mirrors Tansen’s persona,” says Sudheer, adding that the play is a metaphor on the rigours of life.

(Hindi musical ‘Tansen’ June 1, Ranga Shankara, 3.30pm and 7.30 pm, tickets at the venue and bookmyshow)