A lot has been said in regards to theatre lovers vs cinema goers. While the filmy fans think that the theatre folks are snobbish, the latter usually looks down upon the former’s ‘shallow’ tastes. One of the reasons this debate comes up is that while Indian cinema is largely about entertainment, theatre has progressed to include intellect and relevance in its plays. Although, with the current state of theatre and the AGPization of classic plays, one cannot say the same. Moreover, theatre lovers once loved exploring plays in different languages – Urdu, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati being the prime ones. Meanwhile, cinema goers would stick to the classic Bollywood. Now the tables have turned, as English plays (mainly brought to stage by Aadyam) attract large crowds, while movies like Baahubali have increased the appeal of southern cinema.
Whatever the state of theatre is today, there are some evergreen plays, which keep returning to the stage, winning our hearts every time. Let’s take a look back at these plays, whose tickets you may have purchased on our site itself. Take a look:
A Bengali play by Badal Sarkar, this absurdist drama is a landmark play in Indian theatre. The playwright – who explored experimental and anti-establishmentarian theatre – captured the loneliness faced by the youth of the post-Independence period in this play. The play deals with identity, creative freedom and stability with such accuracy that it leaves you feeling bitter.
G. B. Shaw fans must catch this theatrical adaptation of the Broadway play by the same name. A Shaw fan himself, Naseeruddin Shah played the role of the playwright in this comedy drama, along with wife Ratna Pathak Shah, who played the stage actress, Mrs. Patrick Campbell. The two make a formidable couple as the play delves into the intriguing relationship of their characters.
After Mi Nathuram Godse Boltoy – a play that received severe backlash and was even banned at a time – came another controversial play on similar lines. Written and directed by Sharad Ponkshe, this one delves into the life Godse and his strong fundamentals, as narrated by his brother. The play is still highly popular in Mumbai and comes to stage almost every month.
Now a motion picture starring Nana Patekar, this play is about a veteran theatre actor who has left the stage but cannot leave behind the memories of being on one. An adaptation of the Shakespearean play, this was fantastically adapted by V. V. Shirvadkar and is now a hit among Marathi theatre patrons. If you have seen the movie, you must definitely watch its stage version too.
Alyque Padamsee’s version of this musical is a must-watch! A rocking tribute to the life of Jesus, this musical explores the importance of love and peace using rock music. The best of Indian talent come together to put up a fantastic show of a musical that was originally composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Tim Rice.
Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe
No list is complete without the inclusion of Vijay Tendulkar’s famous play. Exploring the themes of infanticide and extra-marital affairs, the story and playwright’s fame are enough to attract audiences to catch this court drama. This play, like Natasamrat, was turned into a Marathi film, starring Amol Palekar and Amrish Puri.
Taj Mahal ka Tender
Ajay Shukla’s satirical play has a very simple plot line – what of Shah Jahan made the Taj Mahal in today’s day and age? The play hilariously delves into the red tape-ism and corruption of modern times, with a historical angle to portray the stark contrast of the two eras. It is a play that entertains you and gives you something to think about.
Another playwright who deserves special mention would be Girish Karnad. Tughlaq is one of his best plays, based on the idealism of Muhammad bin Tughlaq – the 14thcentury Sultan of Delhi. The play explores Tughlaq’s struggle of uniting the Hindus and the Muslims, making it very relevant even in today’s times. The play and its story are extremely powerful and must not be missed.
To Mee Navhech
A landmark piece of writing by Acharya Atre way back in the 1960s, this play has been performed many times over the years, with the cast being repeatedly shuffled as a new generation decides to adapt it. The lead actor of the play is given the mammoth task of performing five different roles, which Prabhakar Panshikar had performed since its inception.
Another masterpiece by Karnad, this was his first play ever, written in 1960. It explores a chapter in the mighty epic of Mahabharata, when Yayati – an ancestor of the mighty Pandavas – is cursed with aging as a result of his infidelity. Like most of the mythological plays, this one stands very important in Indian theatre and has been performed several times later.
If these plays are staging in your city, do give them a watch. And you know where you can get the tickets for the same!