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Words, action, music or all three at once? Take your pick this weekend

Choose between a British a capella band performing Bollywood blockbusters, a gay rom-com, and a love story with a twist.

mumbai Updated: Sep 09, 2017 11:50 IST
A capella,The Magnets,Natalie Di Luccio
From filmi hits to Beatles classics, The Magnets will collaborate with soprano Natalie Di Luccio in their performance at the NCPA.


Attracting attention

The Magnets feat Natalie Di Luccio
  • WHEN: Saturday, 7 pm
  • WHERE: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
  • COST: Rs 1,000 onwards; tickets available online

Looking for a breather from the electronic music scene? British six-men sound machine, The Magnets, give Bollywood music an a capella twist on their first tour to India. From filmi hits to Beatles classics, the band will collaborate with soprano Natalie Di Luccio, whose repertoire ranges from Opera to hummable tunes from Indian blockbusters.

“The hardest songs to perform are always the slow songs,” explains Nic Doodson, director and one of the oldest members of the 22-year-old band. “With a cappella, there are no instruments to hide behind so with slow songs you have to concentrate very hard to be in tune and in time. Fortunately most of the Bollywood songs we’ve been listening to are fast, so that’s been helped us learn them easily!”

Inspired by bands like Rockapella, Take 6, The Real Group and The Persuasions, which has popularised contemporary a capella performances, The Magnets were formed at University College London in 1995. They’ve since churned out original tracks while making incredible music with their mouths. “A capella means a lot of exhaustive practice because you can’t play multiple notes at one time and create a massive sound like with instruments,” says Doodson.

The musicians have performed the world over, and one incidents stick out. “We were performing in Baden Baden, Germany for a Japanese make-up company,” Doodson recalls. “As part of the concert we were asked to sing the company song…in Japanese. We had about 100 Japanese women on stage holding our hands and hugging us as we were trying our very best to remember all the words in Japanese! I don’t think we even managed to finish the song!”

Playing It Gay

Arnesh Ghose’s play,Shikaayat, challenges notions of what a love story should be.
Shikaayat
  • WHEN: September 9 to September 10, 6 pm and 8 pm
  • WHERE: Harkat Studios, Aram Nagar Part 2, Versova, Andheri West
  • COST: Rs 350

The Hollywood term ‘meet cute’ is reserved for when a man and a woman who are going to fall in love encounter one another for the first time. In Arnesh Ghose’s play, Shikaayat, the meet cute happens between two men, at a play.

Liaq (Sanket Sharma) is watching Waiting for Godot and is bored, so he drags the stranger next to him (Ghose) out for tea and cigarettes, and that is the beginning of a love story.

Ghose declares right away that Shikaayat is a passionate gay romcom, as if challenging the audiences perception of what a love story should be. Theatre in Mumbai has got over its squeamishness about tackling LGBT issues (with recent plays like A Friend’s Story, Cock And Six, Dohri Zindagi and Shikhandi) but Ghose believes there’s a still a long way to go.

“The representation of gays in India and even globally is garish and caricaturish—there is great misinterpretation,” says Ghose, citing instances of celebrities like Ricky Martin and Neil Patrick Harris who don’t conform to pop-culture stereotypes of contemporary homosexuals.

Ghose’s story spans ten years and is narrated with music, poetry, dance. Ghose asks in a note on the play: “Who decides what is right and what is wrong? And what do you do when you crave someone more than anything else in this world?”

There are constant debates on Article 377, and small victories like the recent Right To Privacy judgment. “We are no longer at Square One, but I didn’t want to add to the noise, what I am doing is fighting generalisation and hopefully starting a conversation,’ he says. “If ten homophobic people come to see the play and even three or four change their minds, that would be progress.”

Royal rom-com

Om Katare’s play sets the comic love story in a modern-yet-ancient Rajasthani milieu, which allows for the addition of music, dance and colour.
Ye Tera Dil Ye Mera Dil… Ek Prem Gatha
  • WHEN: September 10, 6 pm and 9 pm
  • WHERE: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu
  • COST: Rs 590

Harishankar Parsai is Om Katare’s favourite Hindi writer. It’s not hard to see why. The great humorist wrote up a treasure of satire in novels, essays and short stories; his humour is still fresh, says Katare, who has worked with Parsai’s work in the past. For the 75th production of his group, Yatri, Katare chose Parsai’s short novel Rani Nagfani Ki Kahani and converted it into a play titled Ye Tera Dil Ye Mera Dil… Ek Prem Gatha.

Katare sets the comic love story in a modern-yet-ancient Rajashani milieu, which allows for the addition of music, dance and colour. A prince and princess fall in love. Their fathers try their hardest to put a spoke in the wheel of their romance, while their friends do their utmost to remove all hurdles and bring them together. Yet, after repeated failure in exams, the star-crossed lovers head to the top off a cliff to end their lives. What adds sizzle to the proceedings is Parsai’s wit and elements of fantasy to add to the humour to situation and character. The dialogue is so funny, it seems as if the novel was written with the idea of being staged.

“Working with Parsai’s work is so satisfying because his stories lend themselves to nukkad-naatak [street theatre] as well as staged productions,” Katare says. “Today’s young audiences that may not have read his work get exposed to his wonderful writing. Whenever I get a chance, I pick up a Parsai story to perform even as a platform performance at Prithvi.”

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 21:32 IST