Regardless of which generation you belong to, Aesop’s Fables, Jataka Tales and stories from Panchatantra have been an integral part of your childhood. Drawing inspiration from some of the ancient tales, director Jhelum Gosalia has come up with a new musical play, Panchatantra: India’s Original Musical, which weaves five tales together, and presents them in acontemporary setting.
While the play was originally written by Kamala Ramchandani Naharwar for children in 1984, the contemporary version has widened its reach by revamping the script into a family entertainer.
“The treatment of the act is such that all the stories question the other side of the conventional evil or the bad as depicted in Indian culture. We often hear individuals defining the boundaries of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Our play delves into the issue of who decides these moral codes,” says Gosalia.
The musical goes beyond the realm of regular singing and dancing with the innovative incorporation of aerial movements, acrobatics, body percussions and more. As only some of the members of the cast had done musicals in the past, there were several challenging workshops to get the genre right.
“The performance required for the play was more than simply acting. We started with an animal workshop, where the actors discovered the energies and bodies of specific animals. Then, we worked on the human characteristics of the animals. The third step was incorporating the music, then the dance and aerial bits,” says Gosalia.
Talking about her favourite act, the director says, “I like the The Rabbit And The Lion story, where the rabbit tricks the lion. This story makes me question the age-old concept of the conventional ‘good over evil’. The story is more about survival of the fittest and what one has to do to survive in today’s time.”