When Nitin Bharadwaj was eight years old, he lost a 50-paise coin and ran short of the sum he needed to buy half a litre of milk. Afraid of the punishment if he returned home without it, he stole a coin from a temple.
From that memory emerges the play Ek Rupaiya, which Bharadwaj has written and directed. His young protagonist Munna (Prashant Amlani) feels no guilt over stealing from a temple because he has convinced himself that whatever belongs to God, belongs to His devotee.
The genteel poverty of his family (a result of an honest father), ceases to affect him until Shiva (Bhupesh Singh) and Hanuman (Akash Basnet) turn up on Earth and begin to ask him for their money back.
- When: Sunday, May 21 6.30pm and 9.15 pm
- Where: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
- Tickets: Rs. 400
Only Munna can see the deities in their garish TV serial costumes. They are petulant and soon hooked to comics, as they casually follow the boy around, watching his desperate attempts to collect the money he owes them.
Hanuman watches Ramayan on TV and Shiva is not averse to using his trident to fix a TV antenna. Munna does learn his lesson, which amuses and somewhat moves the viewer.
“I did return the 50 paise,” says Bharadwaj, “but I could never shake off the feeling that I would never be able to return the same coin I had taken.” The simplicity of Ek Rupaiya is its most endearing feature.
SURVIVAL OF A SPECIES
- When:Saturday May 20, 6.30pm
- Where: Sitara Studio, Parel
- Tickets: Rs. 300
Names change. Locations change. But the story stays the same. Sita was abducted, Draupadi was seen fit to disrobe. Bhanwari Devi was gang-raped for protesting child marriage. Rinku Patil was raped and set ablaze at her geometry exam hall by a spurned suitor. Jyoti Singh was gang-raped and tortured in a bus on her way home.
Theatre group, Being Association, responds to India’s continuing violence against women with Museum of Species in Danger, a play that looks at women across centuries, caste, class and economic strata. The series of monologues protests the perception of women as the inferior sex, as property, and as a tool for revenge.
Director Rasika Agashe, says she conceptualised it a little after the December 16 Delhi rape, shaping it up over six months. Their motto was not simply to protest, or to see males as the enemy, but to speak up, raise questions and discuss consent.
Play has had 35 shows across the country, and has been translated to Bengali and Punjabi. Two teams of actors alternate and are graduates of the National School of Drama or the Film and Television Institute of India.
Knots and crosses
- When:Saturday, May 20, 6.30 pm and 9 pm
- Where: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
- Tickets: Rs. 500
Here’s a little known fact about Muslim marriage law: if couple is divorced, they cannot remarry each other unless the wife marries another man, and he divorces her after consummating the marriage. The custom is called Halala and presents obvious complications, as matters of the heart cannot always be controlled.
Writer-director-actor Imran Rashid draws on a real-life incident involving the sister of a friend in Aligarh for Phir Se Shaadi, a play that nods to social reform with humour. The play has love, music, boisterous comedy and a pitch-perfect performance by Danish Husain. He plays Kamaal Khan, a professor entrusted to sort the Halala issue between two of his once-married students.
A funny search follows, for a potential groom who will divorce the woman without a fuss. Then, the professor decides to marry her himself, over the vociferous protests of his own wife. To make matters worse, Khan breaks his own promise, refusing to divorce the young woman, because he has fallen in love with her.
“I engineered a happy ending,” says Rasheed. “The real story ended up with the professor having two wives. I also gave the girl a say in choosing a groom, when, unfortunately, it is men who decide these things. I made the girl bold and articulate, because in a play, I can show what seldom happens in traditional societies.”