A musical adapts the ’50s classic, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi. It comprises a stellar crew, and a cast of underprivileged children
It’s part of film folklore that the 1958 comic film, Chalti ka Naam Gaadi, was made to incur losses. Starring the real-life brothers — Ashok, Anoop and Kishore Kumar — as siblings running a garage, it featured car chases and the memorable song, Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhagi Si. Kishore Kumar believed that it would flop, and he could declare it as an income tax loss. Instead, it turned out to be one of the highest grossers of the year.
In the musical comedy, the eldest brother (Ashok Kumar) does not like women visiting the garage. However, one day Madhubala arrives when her car breaks down. In the process of returning her purse, the siblings embark on a journey that leads to a body being dumped, car chases, and fights.
Read: 25 years of Rage
Now, a new theatrical adaptation attempts to recreate the magic on stage. Set in the present day, the cast features 50 underprivileged teenagers (from the Salaam Bombay Academy of the Arts). The stage adaptation is directed by National School of Drama alumnus Chittranjan Tripathi (he directed the iconic play Taj Mahal ka Tender), and is scripted by National Award-winner Ashok Mishra (writer of Well Done Abba, 2010).
While the children lack acting experience, Tripathi feels that the environment they grew up in exposed them to various situations and people, which came handy while acting.
To make up for the limitations of the stage, the transition from scene to scene will be through visual effects. “We have shot outdoor sequences and will project them on screens, instead of a fade out between scenes. It’s a cinematic play,” says Tripathi.
The stage adaptation retains the songs, Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhaagi Si, and Paanch Rupaiyya Bara Aana, with slight changes. The latter has been modified keeping in mind inflation, and is now Paanch Sau Rupaiyya Bara Aana (Rs 500, as opposed to Rs 5). Composed by Amod Bhatt (a Sangeet Natak Akademi winner), the songs have been sung by Bollywood singers Shaan and Neeti Mohan.
The script is contemporary as well. “The locations have been shifted to places in Mumbai and there are references to modern-day actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan, and mobile phones,” says Mishra.
But why adapt Chalti..? “The play is for an audience that may not have seen the film. While Chalti…is now six decades old, it remains an evergreen story and encompasses a philosophy of life: to keep moving,” says Tripathi.
Chalti ka Naam Gaadi will be staged on November 4, 5, and 6 at YB Chavan Centre; and November 11, 12, and 13
At Rangsharda Auditorium, Bandra (W)
Tickets: Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Call 82911 38842