AK's Various Thoughts

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


June was a month that took away hell of a lot from The Arts.

The world lost, among others,
Habib Tanvir (a bona fide theatre legend),
Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (noted sarod player, nominated for five Grammys),
Farah Fawcett (one of Charlie’s original Angels) and
Michael Jackson (who needs no introduction).

A couple of Akvarious members lost family members (The Grandmother of Will, and The Grandfather of Commotion).

Ekjute lost a wonderfully talented thirteen year old actress (who played Shanti Kabootar in their recent hit JungleDhoom.Com) to an accident.

Terrible losses, all. I hope those left behind find the strength within to move on.

On a much smaller, selfish scale, we lost a very valuable costume trunk. Four hours before a sponsored show of Afsaneh, our trunk got stolen, four lanes away from the venue, from right under our noses. Sarees and lehengas that had been maintained for over 75 years, with real gold and silver work, that were given to the production to bring in authenticity, grandeur and perhaps nostalgia. More than the actual cost, which was high enough, the emotional loss, especially to Purva (writer, choreographer), whose grandmother they belonged to, can only be imagined. One of the primary characters in the play (Beni Bai, performed by Trishla Patel) is based on that very grandmother. This episode came as a harsh and timely reality check about how our systems need to be far more efficient and responsible. Many socks need to be pulled way up.

On the upside, hats off to a phenomenal cast for pulling the show off under this duress. Till fifteen minutes before the show, new costumes were being sourced or bought (that too, on a Sunday). Simultaneously, cast members were driving a cop around Bandra, watching him try to beat some information out of local junkies. And all this while coping with the magnitude of the loss. And the show, as it must, did go on.

By the way, in all seriousness, if anyone ever sees either the saree or lehenga in the photos attached, at a stall in a market, or on someone at a wedding, do let us know. There can’t be too many of the same kind.

On the theatre front, I revisited Aranya’s Aisa Kehte Hai, which I enjoyed a lot more this time around, also because most cast members have, since the opening, become friends of mine and have acquired the post of performers (and persons) I enjoy watching.

June also saw the opening of Quasar Thakore Padamsee’s much awaited return to direction, Project S.T.R.I.P. It had a terrific run at Prithvi, did some threat assessment at Sathaye College, and is now on its way to the acquisition of NCPA Experimental.

The play has been written (splendidly) by Ram Ganesh Kamatham, who featured in the last Writers’ Bloc festival (with Crab, produced by QTP, which is run by Quasar Thakore Padamsee), along with Anuvab Pal (with The President is Coming, also produced by QTP), who is now directing a play – 1-888-Dial-India – produced by ACE, which belongs to another Padamsee.

Such a small world, I tell you.