Back in 2008, the local
circuit witnessed one of the most creative collaborations when actor Lillete Dubey donned the director’s hat for play-wright Girish Karnad’s play, Wedding Album.
Continuing this association, Dubey’s latest directorial — Boiled Beans On Toast (BBOT) — is another of Karnad’s plays. Written in 2012 and set in an urban locality of Bengaluru, the play gives us an insightful peek into the lives and aspirations of people.
"It is an entertaining social commentary with tons of humour. Karnad spoke to me about the play over a year ago, and its lyrical nature and simplistic approach motivated me the most to stage it. It’s a drama that shows how people live invisibly in cities. For instance, we interact with our maids, drivers and cooks on a daily basis, but are hardly aware of their background or where they come from," says Dubey.
The two-hour-long play heavily utilises the actors with each performer portraying multiple characters.
"Karnad’s script had 21 characters. Since our plays travel a lot, it becomes difficult to move with such a huge cast. So, to ease out the logistical woes, as well as challenge and involve the actors, a single person essays more than one role," says Dubey.
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Explaining the quirky title, Dubey says, "The catchy name comes from a mythical tale about Bengaluru, where the play is set. According to the lore, in the 11th century, a Hoysala king had lost his way and asked a woman on the road for something to eat. The lady served him boiled beans as she had nothing else. He felt grateful and named the place Benda kaal-ooru, which, in Kannada means the town of boiled beans."
In the play, the boiled beans denote the rooted section of the population, who are on toast due to the wave of globalisation and progress that is affecting almost every sphere of their humdrum lives.
Talking about the challenges she faced while making the play, Dubey says, "Since Karnad wrote it in homogenous English, nothing distinguishes the various socio-economic classes in the play. The drama is a beautiful calibration of the social strata. That is why it took some time to work on the dialects and nuances of the characters."