AK's Various Thoughts

Theatre Director Akarsh Khurana shares his views on theatre in Bombay and across India.


“If you ever quote me again in that Script thing, I will mess up your cues on stage, during a show.”
– Irate theatre actor, Sanjay Dadhich

I have sat down to write this article a few hours after being part of an official “conversation” about theatre in the office of a leading newspaper. A panel discussion of sorts, among seemingly salient members of the fraternity, a lot of whom didn’t turn up. I’m going through a stock taking period, thus had some time and lots of curiosity. The dialogue was interesting, to say the least. It was general, charged banter about the state of all affairs theatrical. No consensus was reached, but perhaps that wasn’t the point. What became clear was: everyone faced similar problems (whether they had sponsors or not), everyone was hence struggling to find solutions, Mumbai does not have enough viable theatre spaces, Gujarati theatre is thriving, and Facebook has been a successful tool in theatre promotion. Also, more young people are watching English theatre, machine coffee is consistently acceptable, and the chocolate Pure Magic is the king of biscuits. We had a group snap taken after much repositioning, and left satisfied, with a ceramic token in tow. On a more serious note, it is quite apparent that collective efforts need to be made to find solutions to our problems, whatever they may be. The time is right. The initiative is being taken at micro levels. A macro move is required.

May was a busy month for Summertime at Prithvi. There was no dearth of theatre for children. Though I did overhear quite a few complaintive conversations about some of the plays being suitable more for young adults than for children. But with kids growing up so fast these days, I think it really is a fine line. In a very brave move, Bijon Mandal undertook the task of adapting Yann Martel’s award winning fantasy adventure, Life of Pi, for the stage. Kuo Pao Kun (famous playwright, theatre director and activist from Singapore) also found his way to the stage via Day I Met the Prince, which is based on the famous French story, The Little Prince (or Le Petit Prince) by Antoine Saint Exupery. Meanwhile, among other productions, Vikram Iyengar exposed children to Kathak in a most entertaining manner in Labbaik! and puppets (and puppeteers) enacted their version of Shakespeare in Almost Twelfth Night.

Our group is ending the month with shows of one of our children’s plays at the new Sathaye College Auditorium in Vile Parle East. It’s a lovely little intimate space which can and should be cultivated into a regular theatre haunt. It was heartening to see people coming from as far as Goregaon and Borivali for some previous shows there. Apparently the proximity to the Western Express Highway is an advantage. A bunch of theatre people have come together to aggressively promote the place. With the potential of being macro in the long run, it is, I hope, one of the first of many such required moves.

“However, if you’re writing for the Times of India, or Filmfare, you can quote me, but with my permission.”
– Reconciled theatre actor, Sanjay Dadhich

“Yes, of course these are accurate Sanjay Dadhich quotes.”
– Professional liar, Akarsh Khurana