A nondescript basement in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas comes alive as members of the theatre group Tadpole Repertory begin to practise their act one last time before the show this weekend.
Taramandal, written and directed by the group’s headliner Neel Chaudhuri, is about failed dreams and ‘that chance’ to fulfil them.
The play is based on Satyajit Ray’s story Patol Babu Film Star, in which a jaded 50-something carefully nurses his lifelong ambition — acting. The big moment comes for Patol Ray (played by Andrew Hoffland) one day when he’s selected for a role of an angry pedestrian in a film. From listening to ‘Mozart in the dark’ to perfecting his one word dialogue — oh! (which becomes a motif for individuality) — Patol does it all for that one moment in the sun.
His tale is told through other — part-tragic, part-comic — narratives about similar stories from television, theatre and films — a student, struggling actors and a doctor who wanted to be an actor...
While the story of starry ambitions, aching disappointments and big opportunities is age-old, the heartfelt performances make it worth the two hours.
Watch out for Madhav (Neel Debdutt Paul) in All The Lonely People, Dushyant’s (Momo Ghosh) monologue in Doctor Man and Devika (Kriti Pant) as the perfect starlet in Just Hands.
The group, a breakaway from the First City foundation, has been a regular at the medicine shows — inspired by early 19th Century American ‘medicine shows’, which roped in artistes to draw in the crowds to sell ‘miracle cures’ — staged in the capital over the last year. Taramandal is their debut production.
Taramandal gently reveals the innateness in human nature which wants a witness to its life unfolding, a moment in the spotlight before the final curtain comes down.
Without an elaborate stage setting, costumes or lighting Taramandal keeps you riveted.
With a playwright award already behind them, this definitely looks like Tadpole Repertory’s big moment.