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Home / Art and Culture / An Indian ode to a Greek tragedy

An Indian ode to a Greek tragedy

First time director, Ira Khan, speaks of her play Medea and the advice her father Aamir Khan has given her.

art-and-culture Updated: Nov 15, 2019 18:07 IST
Yoshita Rao
Yoshita Rao
Mumbai
Play director, Ira Khan
Play director, Ira Khan

A scorned lover, hurt by her own husband’s infidelity, sets out on a path of vengeance and cold-blooded murder — such is the premise of the Greek tragedy Medea by Euripides. The play, which was written in approximately 400BC, will now be performed in Mumbai on December 7, under the directorial debut of Ira Khan, daughter of actor Aamir Khan. Ask Ira if she’s a fan of Greek mythology and she answers with an emphatic “Yes”. “Greek mythology is vast and every story has at least seven different versions to it. I haven’t read the other versions of Medea. I’ve read Medea by Euripides in high school and in college, and each time I read it I learn something new, which is really frustrating, but, over rehearsals, I’ve realised it’s my play and I can do it slightly differently,” the 21-year-old says.

Choosing a dark play for her debut, Ira explains that it was “the mindset switch which was the hardest thing” about this play as it was written in a different era. “I’ve read Antigone and Ajax by Sophocles, and also, six different translations of Medea, but I chose Euripides’s version because I had something to say through it. It’s a very subtle message and you’d have to watch the play to understand,” says Ira, who studied liberal arts in college.

The play, which is set to be staged in the first week of December, had 60 people lined-up for the audition rounds, of which actor Hazel Keech was one of them and was soon chosen to play the protagonist. “I’ve known Hazel for long, but I’d not watched Bodyguard (2011) or any of her works. Though, she is very animated and did quirky impressions. When she auditioned for the play she got the subtleties, and I knew she would go to extremes to do the part,” says Ira.

Indian film actor and model Hazel Keech
Indian film actor and model Hazel Keech ( Photo: AFP )

On accepting the role, Hazel, who is also known for being an extra on the set of the Harry Potter series, says, “I had gone through a lot of darkness in my own life and have come out the other end. I knew I would do justice to this dark, heavy role.” She then spills on Ira’s directing skills, “She is incredibly driven, hard-working and wise. She certainly doesn’t have the energy of a 21-year-old directing her first play. She’s inspiring and motivating, and I feel very lucky to be chosen to play Medea with her as my director.”

But Ira, one of the youngest people in the production, says she is “not intimidated” and is okay with being the youngest one around. She goes on to speak of the words of wisdom her father gave her. “He said that the play is the most important thing and I can’t be nice about things. The play is the priority and I needed to make decisions as the director of the play, and not keep anyone’s feelings in mind. You cannot forsake your work because of how someone would feel about it,” concludes the young director.

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