Blessed are the people who have theatre to indulge in, and blessed are they whom they are indulged in front of. We had some good, real good theatre in 2016. Here are some of the finest plays of the year we don’t mind watching again and again and again!
Inspired by the Tiatr style of theatre, Loretta is set on a river island in Goa. It is a story of a father-son relationship, their different beliefs, priorities and wants from life. Directed by Sunil Shanbag and written by Pundalik Naik, Loretta is yet another magnificent production brought to you by Aadyam. With Rozzlin Pereira, Saattvic and Abhijit Bhor in key roles the play is packed with some great performances!
9. Dohri Zindagi
Directed by Gurleen Judge, Dohri Zindagi is a story of two girls from neighbouring villages in Rajasthan. They are bound by marriage by their fathers before their birth. The play explores what it is to love in a homophobic society. Is it right to fall in love with a person and not their gender? Or maybe its just a perspective. Dohri Zindagi is definitely relevant to our present day situation and asks some pertinent questions.
Set in the smoking zone of a corporate building, Dhumrapaan is about human fears and insecurities and its manifestations. Written by Adhir Bhat and directed by Akarsh Khurana, the play has some impressive performances by Kumud Mishra, Siddharth Kumar, Sarthak Kakar and Shubhrajyoti Barat. It takes you through the rat race of daily life, wicked games of the corporate jungle, office politics, gossip and much much more.
1960’s iconic film Mughal-e-Azam was transformed into a fantastical production for the stage by director, Feroz Abbas Khan. Co-produced by Shapoorji Pallonji & NCPA, the musical was choreographed by Mayuri Upadhya. Light Design was by Drama Desk award winner, David Lander while award-winning production designers John Narun & Neil Patel controlled production for the play. With costumes designed by Manish Malhotra this specular musical masterpiece was a visual treat for theatre goers.
6. Riding off Madly in All Directions
Prithvi Theatre opened their annual festival, with this superlative production by Motley Theatre. The entire Shah clan- Naseeruddin, Ratna Pathak, Heeba, Imaaad and Vivaan, performed a collection of Stephen Leacock’s stories. Portraying a plethora of characters, letting loose ideas of revenge, helplessness, relevance, existential losses & crises, this play had audiences riding only in one direction- towards the theatre!
Written and directed by Manav Kaul, Chuhal is a classic example of immense beauty in simplicity. This story about love, absorbs you with its small-town flavour and stellar performances. While its no surprise that Kaul is absolutely brilliant on stage, Srishti Srivastava’s portrayal deserves the loudest applause. Effortless and endearing, Srishti lives her character with ease. Also, Sugandha Garg’s rare theatre outing needs to become a regular affair. Would love to see more of her in 2017.
4. Far Away
Caryl Churchill’s post-modern, spine chilling play, Far Away is a horrifyingly imaginative story which takes off with a girl questioning a particular narrative about her aunt, and moves on to feature a war the entire universe seems to be fighting. The play has been rightly called ‘a howl of anguish’, and was brought to the stage by Little Productions and Sitara Studio. Directed by Rehaan Engineer, the production featured Kalki Koechlin, Sheeba Chaddha, and Vivek Gomber. Far Away is stagecraft of a different kind, theatre which makes one sit up and think.
3. White Rabbit Red Rabbit
Written by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, White Rabbit Red Rabbit is an absurdist adventure, which sits on the border of comedy and drama. Written in English, the unique script requires no director, no set and a different actor for every performance. An actor is allowed to do this play only once in his/her lifetime, without any hint or research of the script. He/She is handed a script in a sealed envelope, and must then go on to perform for the next hour.
Performances were carried across the country and adapted in other languages as well. Produced by QTP, the play has been performed by renowned actors including Rajit Kapur, Ira Dubey, Atul Kumar, Arundhati Nag and Anu Menon.
2. Elephant in the Room
Conceived, performed, and directed by Yuki Ellias and written by Sneh Sapru, Elephant in the Room is the familiar story of a young boy whose head has been replaced by an elephant’s, but set in an unfamiliar time. The solo performance saw Yuki flit in and out of characters with minimal effort. She brought to life animals, fantastical characters and entire jungles. A minimally set, yet splendid performance!
1. 12 Angry Jurors
Reginald Rose’s 1954 masterpiece ‘Twelve Angry Men’ which made waves on screen was brought to the Indian stage by Aadyam (theatre initiative by Aditya Birla Group) and directed by Nadir Khan & produced by Rage Productions as 12 Angry Jurors. Boasting of a stellar cast including Rajit Kapur, Deven Khote, Prerna Chawla, and Sohrab Ardeshir, 12 Angry Jurors stood out in 2016.
It effectively brought to light the transcendent values of our prejudices. A young slum dweller is accused of killing his abusive father, and people who have not the slightest inkling about his life are trying to determine his fate. A hard-hitting and gripping production, it made clever use of videos that showcase details of the court room drama.
Special Mention: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
One of Disney’s favourites – Beauty and the Beast – took India by storm with shows in Mumbai and Delhi. Although it premiered in 2015, the broadway-style musical enjoyed a successful second season, earlier this year. The desi production had over a hundred of the finest musical theatre performers performing on lavish sets, in stunning costumes and everything that goes into making a play, a SPECTACULAR SHOW!