William Shakespeare is one of the most translated authors in the history of literature. And that’s what led to the unprecedented Globe to Globe festival this year (April to June), where 37 of The Bard’s plays were staged, each in a different language. One out of the only two Indian plays to be invited was Atul Kumar’s Piya Behroopiya, the Hindi version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. And after garnering much appreciation at the Globe, Kumar is all set to stage his play in the city.
In the past, Kumar has directed Hamlet and King Lear in English, but this is the first time he has attempted a Hindi version. He says, “I’ve not directed a play in Hindi for a very long time and, since it’s my first language, I wanted to try it with Twelfth Night.” The cast comprises distinguished theatre actors like Amitosh Nagpal, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Neha Saraf and Sagar Deshmukh, among others. Talking about the response to their play at the Globe, Deshmukh says, “The spectators were really happy; we felt a connection with them despite the language barrier. For a matinee show on a working day, the gathering was huge.”
Atul further experimented with the play by converting it into a musical, with a lot of folk music and regional dialects. Amitosh Nagpal (who you might recognise as an actor from films like Dabangg and Aarakshan) wrote the dialogues. “I kept the actors in mind while writing the dialogues. I wanted the cultural diversity of the artists to come across,” he says. Ask Kumar about his favourite moment in the play and he says, “I love it when my narrator Amitosh Nagpal comes on the stage and jumps from scene to scene very quickly. It’s like the play is in a fast forward mode with the editing done before the audience.”