‘Mahabharat Ek Chirharan’
A ‘Mahabharat Ek Chirharan’ rehearsal. Image Credit: Supplied

When a group of amateurs decides to put up an Indian epic on stage, it’s bound to have a disastrous (read hilarious) results. In ‘Mahabharat Ek Chirharan’, a Hindi play that is running at The Junction this weekend, this is exactly what’s going down.

In this-play-within-a-play, a bunch of office workers decides to put up the Mahabharat for an annual party – the director is the only one with some theatre experience. Saif Khan, producer and actor in the play, explains: “The main idea was to present a very desi comedy with a musical touch.”

And it is funny, insists Khan, saying the audience can expect to guffaw. “The audience can expect one-and-a-half hours of complete family entertainment. This play is a slapstick comedy that tickles your bones.”

When taking on a serious sensitive story and turning it into a comedy, there is more than a chance of getting things wrong, of offending people. Khan, however, dismisses this thought. He explains: “SaifTea First Production is very clear with the approach of this play. We respect all religions and cultures and we gave an uttermost thought to this concept as we knew a section of society will question us on presenting a mythological story. In regards to this, we have always mentioned that this play will not offend any religion at all, as being a play in a play it only shows the comedy between the employees struggling to get the act together rather than insulting or offending any mythological character. The play is more about themselves than the characters as we know they are just employees pushed to do the play.”

When facing such a tall task – to make people giggle and chortle, there’s a lot of pressure; physical comedy is tough. Get the timing wrong and you’ll have a befuddled audience frowning at your every move. Director Nilesh Despande was only too aware of this hurdle. “Slapstick comedy itself is a very difficult form of comedy and with some veterans and some new actors that we tried in this production, it took us way more time to tune the actors on the same level than I expect. Some actors took way more time, some took lesser time but in the end, the end result is to make sure the comic timing is in line with the flow of the play. The challenging part was to make sure the play is tight as actors have quick one liners. Looking at the progress now, we are sure that it will look good when presented,” he explains.

Theatre offers animated storylines to a vast audience made up of different demographics, so is language a huge barrier to getting this troupe’s message out? “We believe the theatre in UAE has always appreciated every language regardless of what they hear, focusing instead on what they see. This is what will the audience who don't speak Hindi will enjoy about our play, being slapstick, the flow of the play is fast and the play hence becomes more expressive with an action-reaction game. The non- Hindi speaking audience would definitely appreciate what they see,” says Khan.

“We are here to entertain people and make sure they walk away with a smile on their faces. In the current situation, where everything has opened for the UAE audience, we take an opportunity to present another vaccine, vaccine of laughter to end the years with. P.S it has no side-effects,” he concludes.


Tickets to see ‘Mahabharat Ek Chirharan’, which plays out on December 10 and 11 at The Junction, Alserkal Avenue, at 3.30pm and 7.30pm are Dh100.