Archive for May, 2019

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


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)


May 16, 2019

Tell me, my dearly beloved dost,
On how many fora should I “like” your post?
I liked it first on Wild Pixel,
And ticked “like” again on Nature Clicks, as well.
Then came Jungle FB and Wildlife Lens.
I clicked those two, as we are friends.
By the time I’d responded on Nisarga and Wilderness Wired
I must confess, I was a little tired.
Yet I persisted on Prakriti Shot,
Added a like on Life Well Caught.
But now I feel like I’ve been in a wringer.
“No more!” says my poor, tired, “liking” finger.
And, in future, I wish to state:
I’ll “like” just once: not in dupli,tripli or quadruplicate!

*Names of FB groups completely imaginary, any resemblance to reality is completel