At the Cymroza Art Gallery, Breach Candy, we enter a room and spot a group of 10 to 12 people, huddled around a table, chatting with each other. After five minutes, they move to one side of the room, and start arguing with each other. “I want to be the jury leader,” shouts an apparently pregnant woman dressed in a black top and a pair of denims.
We are at the rehersal of The Jury, a play which premieres this Friday. And the lady in the black top is Divya Palat, director and one of the actors of the play. The other cast members include actors Tanishaa Mukerji and Aditya Hitkari. Based on a real story, the plot revolves around the deliberation that occurs in a courtroom.
Palat’s earlier play, The Verdict (2013), was also a courtroom drama enacted by the same cast. While The Verdict allowed 10 people from the audience to vote on whether the person is ‘guilty’ or ‘innocent’, The Jury will allow about a 100-member audience to use touch pads to vote, the results of which will be displayed on a large screen and will affect the outcome of the play.
Palat has always been fascinated with legal dramas and even visited Las Vegas to take part in CSI: The Experience at MGM Grand, a real-life game that allows people to investigate ‘crime scenes’. “My family wanted me to be a lawyer as I talk too much,” says Palat.
Taking into account how diverse opinions can affect decision-making, Palat decided to showcase various communities and their quirks through the 12-member jury. “Each of them will have their own perspective and bring their side of the story along with cultural, language and socio-economic factors, making it a hilarious play,” she explains.
Divya Palat, Tanishaa Mukerji with other cast members during rehearsals. (Satish Bate/HT photo)
Mukerji, plays an exaggerated version of her real self, who keeps clicking selfies and tweeting constantly. The play pokes fun at her for being a part of the reality show Bigg Boss, and the self-obsession of celebrities. The actress says, “I love the interactive aspect of this play because the ending keeps changing. As an artiste, it is interesting because, at the last moment, you have to memorise a new ending, go on stage and live the character.”
Based on how this play fares, Palat is planning to write another, where every 20 minutes, the audience can decide how the play proceeds. “It will be crazy, but superbly interactive,” she says.
Watch: The Jury
Where: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA When: August 7, 7.30pm
Call: 2282 4567
Curious to know more? Browse through the case files used for the play on www.thejury.in
(The writer tweets as @EnidJDsouza )