Late on a Friday night, we dropped by at an apartment in a Juhu high-rise to watch the rehearsals of Hyacinth, the dance drama focusing on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) relationships. The Greek tragedy revolves around themes of friendship, unrequited love, anger, jealousy and revenge, as two gods — Apollo and Zephyrus fall in love with the same man — Hyacinth (see box). The contemporary version uses ballroom dance and contemporary dance along with elements of Chinese long-sleeve dance to narrate the tale.
Produced by the NGO Humsafar Trust, Hyacinth is written and directed by choreographer Sandip Soparrkar. The cast includes actors Mithun Purandare as the sun god Apollo, Raj Kumar as Hyacinth, and Yuvraaj Parashar as the god of the west wind Zephyrus. The emotion of Love, played by model and actress Jesse Randhawa, is personified as the narrator of the story.
Depicting same-sex relationships without caricaturing them was a challenge and Soparrkar spoke to his friend, fashion designer Rohit Verma, to get perspective on this. “While I was familiar with how men praise women, and vice versa, I wasn’t sure how a man would praise his male lover. I didn’t want to make the characters seem comic or vulgar. They are portrayed like regular couples,” he says.
To raise funds for the production, the Humsafar Trust took recourse to crowdfunding. The goal was to raise `2,00,000, which they surpassed by raising `2,06,500 in 45 days.
The NGO believes that the play will help change perceptions about the community. “Hyacinth highlights the emotional journey of same-sex couples. All the talk on Section 377 dehumanises us, and only speaks of us as sexual objects. But we are actually fighting for the need of companionship, to be able to find love without the criminal tag,” says Pallav Patankar, director, HIV programs, Humsafar Trust.
The NGO had earlier produced the seminal play Ek Madhav Baug, narrated from the point of view of a mother who reads the diary of her 21-year-old son coming to terms with his sexuality.
Hyacinth has three intimate scenes and Soparrkar says he was upfront with the actors about them. Kumar, who plays Hyacinth, says he was convinced it was a requirement of the script: “It is only when Zephyrus sees me and Apollo intimate together that he gets furious and sets the whole chain of events in motion.”
For actor Yuvraaj Parashar, who acted in Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyun (part 1 and 2), a film with LGBT undertones, the theme or the dance was not a challenge (he is a trained classical dancer). “I look at the intimate scenes as part of the job. I hope such plays help people open up and support the community,” he says.
The original tale
Hyacinth was a beautiful youth who was loved by the sun god Apollo and the god of the west wind, Zephyrus. Both propose to Hyacinth, but he picks Apollo, the force of creation, over Zephyrus, the force of destruction. A bitter Zephyrus watches the lovers play with the discus and blows a strong wind causing the discus to sever Hyacinth’s head. A grief-stricken Apollo immortalises his love for Hyacinth by creating a flower named after him.
The play will be staged on October 4, 7pm onward at Gujarati Kelvani Mandal, Vile Parle (E)
Tickets available on instamojo.com
Price: Rs 350