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After the preliminary lull within the performing arts house final yr as a result of ongoing covid-19 pandemic, one can now witness a spate of exercise inside theatre. The digital medium has grow to be the brand new stage, with performs being streamed dwell in our dwelling rooms. Aditya Birla’s theatre initiative, Aadyam, determined to movie a few of their earlier performs and put them on-line as ticketed exhibits on specific days.

The newest one, which they’ve ‘staged’ on-line, is Purva Naresh’s Bandish 20-20,000Hz, a scathing touch upon how we now have destroyed intrinsic points of our tradition after attaining freedom. The story revolves across the felicitation of two yesteryear singers by an area politician in a small kasbah in Uttar Pradesh on the event of 70 years of Independence. One was a nautanki singer in her heyday, and the opposite a baithak performer. Satirically, the celebrations meant to recognise their contribution to music, comprise hip-hop songs and dances, not people or classical music. And it’s the hip-hop performers who grow to be the centre of all preparations for the night.

As the play unfolds, it juxtaposes today’s sham culture with the skills of a bygone era, Photo: courtesy Aadyam

Because the play unfolds, it juxtaposes as we speak’s sham tradition with the talents of a bygone period, Picture: courtesy Aadyam

The distinction is for all to see. Whereas Champabai and Benibai, powerfully carried out by Anubha Fatehpuria and Nivedita Bhargava respectively, are dropped at the venue in rickety rickshaws, and made to attend for a number of hours, unattended, the hip-hop technology is pushed there in a luxurious automotive, and pampered totally. Accompanied by a retinue of hair-stylist, make-up man and supervisor, Moushumi, performed by the versatile dancer-actress-singer Ipshita Singh Chakraborty, who will shake a plump leg for the native bigwigs, throws starry tantrums which the supplicating bureaucrat-in-charge, essayed very convincingly by Harsh Khurana, caters to. From natural fruit juice to farm contemporary salad, she will get all of it, whereas the veteran singers subsist on tea and biscuits.

After which, there’s a disaster. The younger man, Kabir, who was to sing on the perform, essayed with panache by actor Hitesh Bhojraj, abruptly turns into persona non grata as it’s found that he has carried out in a neighbouring nation, for which he’s being trolled 1000’s of his Indian followers. His presence on the venue now turns into a safety threat, and he’s requested to remain away. Nevertheless, he insists on singing, or being paid double his renumeration for not performing.

Confusion continues to multiply with an influence outage. With no recorded music to lip-sync to, Moushumi can not carry out her merchandise numbers. Champabai, the irrepressible nautanki singer, keen to specific her expertise, affords to sing as an alternative; however is snubbed by the bureaucrat, who has fairly forgotten that she and Benibai are supposed to be the celebs of the night. “You’re right here to obtain samman patra, on the event of azadi, to not sing,” he chides. To which her man Friday, Munnu, performed with gusto by Danish Hussain, retorts, “Yeh ghulami bhi dekhe hain, aura aazadi bhi.

And so, the play unfolds, juxtaposing as we speak’s sham tradition with the talents of a bygone period, when Benibai’s rendering of thumri, bhajan, todi, had royalty vying for her consideration, and Champabai enthralling giant gatherings together with her people numbers, singing dwell. Whereas Champabai graduated to singing poems of Leftist poets, Benibai, impressed by Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom motion, composed stirring lyrics like Charkha chala chala ke/ Lenge Swaraj lenge.

The play seems to be at what has occurred to those artists after desires of Swaraj have been fulfilled Prudish yardsticks made Champabai and Benibai cultural outcastes; with even All India Radio banning a lot of those that as soon as held sway on its haloed premises.

Naresh, a multi-skilled musician herself, has drawn upon varied sources, like her late filmmaker mom’s archival assortment, Pran Nevile’s The Nautch Ladies of India, and the Gandhi Sangralaya, to flesh out her story. The sharp, satirical narrative is interspersed with dances and songs, that aren’t simply pleasant however thought-provoking as properly. The lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, Naresh Saxena and nautanki singer Gulabbai, set to music by Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan, make Bandish a deeply-layered play.

The satire and music are so intricately interwoven, that it’s troublesome to fathom whether or not the story was woven across the songs, or vice versa. Naresh, who’s a fan of musicals, clarifies that although she has, prior to now, written tales round songs, within the case of Bandish, it was the story, impressed vastly by her grandmother, Beni Kunwar, and singers like Gulabbai that propelled the play. “Taking part in on the phrase bandish, which implies each composition and bondage, I needed to denounce the curbs on inventive freedom after Independence,” she explains.

Filming the play has had its personal challenges. “The largest problem,” she factors out, “was filming the varied areas and timelines that the play traverses. On stage, that is achieved by lighting methods, actors’ physique language and alter of units. However taking pictures such a play in an auditorium is troublesome,” she elaborates. “A digicam wants house to maneuver round, particularly for huge photographs, which you’ll be able to’t do in an auditorium. So, we shot with a number of cameras and shot giant chunks at one go, calling for lower solely when a scene ended naturally, to make sure that the natural circulate of the play was maintained. This required a number of detailed planning.”

Detailed planning is what viewers additionally need to do in the event that they wish to be glued to their pc screens for two-and-a-half hours, by making certain a quick web connectivity, a cup of espresso beside them, and extra, earlier than coming into the ‘auditorium’, as you can not pause the present and resume at will.

Bandish can be streamed on-line on Insider on 30 and 31 January, 2021

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