Chaturang, which means something that has four parts, is an evening of four short plays in Hindi running at The Junction, in Al Serkal Avenue. It had a serendipitous starting point, explains Rashmi Kotriwala, who produced Chaturang and is the founder of drama troupe EnAct. She says: “To be honest, I had these dates booked at the venue in the beginning of the year with the hope that the pandemic would be over by September and we will all be back to normal. But that was not to be. We could not give up the dates and we could not continue with our original plans. When we saw that the other plays in the month were full-length English plays, we decided to offer something different."
“Also, people in general have gone through losses and pain over the past year and we wanted to offer reality and good messages, packaged with laughter so that it’s more palatable. All plays of Chaturang are light and fun with subtle messages," she adds.
Ahead of the shows on September 17 and 18, here’s a look at what the stories have to offer.
‘Prastaav’ is an adaptation of the Russian playwright Anton Chekov’s ‘The Proposal’. Set in a village in Haryana, a marriage proposal between two neighbours leads to unexpected reactions.
Director Sonni Chhabra says the story unpacks the layers of human behaviour. “Chekhov portrays in his play how marriages have always been a symbol of social and financial networking rather than a symbol of love. He displays how the rich want to marry their children into wealthy families with the aim of enhancing their wealth. The characters in this play are quarrelsome and often end up fighting over trivial matters, but they still remember the marriage proposal which would lead to further monetary gains. This is still relevant in current times,” she says.
It's a lesson in the importance of building bonds, says Chhabra, which is definitely the need of the hour.
‘Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi’ is an adaptation of G. B Shaw’s (Ireland) ‘Pygmalion’. It follow the journey of a flower girl into the upper echelons of society. Tabassum Inamdar, who has adapted the story and directed it, says: “Our culture always tries to create a HERO in any narration and people idolise that. But many a times, these heroes are much larger than life and somewhat far from reality. I was on a quest for stories which are very raw, rustic and humane in nature. A story, which could include all shades of comedy, drama, anger, frustration and humility, G. B. Shaw's "Pygmalion" came with all that and more. We performed a Marathi version of the same in a short play festival, a while back. So when the thought of doing International stories in Indian adaptation came up, it was a no-brainer that it had to be ‘Pygmalion’.”
The audience will completely relate to what goes on as the story unfolds, she insists. She adds that the production is set in a very lavish Lucknow background in the 1920s.
‘Gaadi Taiyar Hai and Beemar’ is a take on O Henry’s short story ‘While the Auto Waits’. The story has been relocated to 1950s Calcutta/Kolkata where two strangers meet in a park and the conversation reveals human behavior. This comedic play has been adapted and directed by Rashmi Kotriwala, who is also the founder of theatre troupe EnAct. She says: “I had read this short play many years ago and it had stayed with me. The story displays human behaviour which is always a topic of interest and much debate. Human behaviour is triggered by thoughts, feelings, beliefs, desires, and aspirations and sometimes is so complex that it’s hard to explain. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by the psychological aspects of life. Additionally I love stories with unexpected turns.This is one such story so am quite excited to see how the public responds to it.”
Kotriwala also directed ‘Beemar’, originally by Saadat Hasan Manto. “The situation in the play is that of a sick person who is visited by his friends through the day and each of them offer solutions for him based on their personal experience and knowledge which is also coloured by the individual relationships. It is a hilarious take on the subject is absolutely relevant in corona times,” she explains.
The stories may be short, but they promise entertainment for their durations. And afterwards, something to talk about.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to see Chaturang, which run at 3.30pm and 8pm, on September 17 and 18 are Dh100.