By George.. he’s back | art and culture | Hindustan Times
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By George.. he’s back

The President.. returns to stage, reports Reema Gehi.

art and culture Updated: Jan 23, 2009 10:31 IST

A rather contented director Kunaal Roy Kapur shares, “When we started off.. our aim was only to stage a show that had some quality. The rest has been a blessing of sorts.” Two years ago, Anuvab Pal’s play The President is Coming, directed by Roy Kapur, opened as part of Rage’s Writers’ Bloc festival. The political satire, which mirrors India’s obsession with everything American, was the most underrated play at the multi-lingual fest. Ironically, it was the only survivor from the plays staged at the fest, and was voted one of the best five plays of 2007.

Renewed interest
Tomorrow, the 31st performance will be staged at the Tata Theatre, NCPA. There is a renewed interest in the production following the warm reviews garnered by its film adaptation. Early this week, nostalgia rent the air at the Juhu Habitat Centre with the coming together of the original cast for rehearsals: Ratnabali Bhattacharjee, Shivani Tanksale, Namit Das, Ira Dubey, Anand Tiwari, Satchit Puranik, Choiti Ghosh, Vivek Gomber and Anup Burte. “From the play reading sessions to our rehearsals at Worli’s NAB to shooting for the film.. it’s been like living with George Bush,” says Tiwari, who plays the glib Gujarati stockbroker both in the film and the play.

Original touch
Although most actors were retained from the play, some recasting was inevitable. The PR executive Samantha Patel, portrayed by Ratnabali Bhattacharjee in the play, was interpreted by Shernaz Patel in the film. Similarly Konkona Sen Sharma’s portrayal of a Bengali novelist, took on another form from the one essayed in the play.

The main challenge faced by Roy Kapur was to connect with the audience by the means of throwaway lines of dialogue and deadpan humour. “Before the camera, everything had to be more subtle and nuanced compared to the high-octane drama on stage,” states Dubey, the lispstick selling socialite of the wacky comedy. Roy Kapur summarises, “All these guys who came on board and went snowballing with it, made President what it is.”