Over the past two years, Aadyam has become synonymous with fresh theatre. Their goal to offer theatre-makers a chance to bring their magnum opus on stage has proved very beneficial to the audience since we get to see some mind-blowing performances. Last year, we got some gems like Ladies Sangeet, Loretta, and Twelve Angry Jurors, which certainly are some fantastic additions to the theatre industry. In 2017, Aadyam opened in Delhi with Bandish 20 – 20,000 Hz, which took the audience on a musical journey filled with the right amount of emotion.
The play opens on the day we celebrate our 70th Independence Day in the green room where we see two aged ladies. One of them is Champa Bai – a popular nautanki singer, while the other is Beni Bai – a baithak (classical) singer. A hassled organizer informs them that they need to be ready in seven hours to receive the honors for their contribution to music. The rest of the play comprises events during these seven hours, including a throwback to the decades of struggle the ladies faced. Other characters include Kabir – an up-and-coming singer, who is labeled 'anti-national' on social media, Moushumi – a playback singer, and Munnu, who completes the ensemble on stage.
Bai and Beni Bai alternatively take us back in time to the time when they stood up against the "angrez" and how, in their own unique way, they had been a part of the freedom struggle. Each story is accompanied by a song. The essence of music is bounded in the stories of the four singers of different generations struggling with their demons.
The title 'Bandish' can be interpreted in two ways. It means 'composition' in Indian Classical music, and it also means to be bound by something. 20 – 20,000 Hz is the limit of frequency a human ear can hear. The play brings out both the meanings in a beautiful way. The dialogues keep you thoroughly entertained with some witty one-liners, which are delivered expertly by Champa Bai and Munnu. Although all actors perform well, Ipshita Chakraborty Singh manages to steal hearts. She not only portrays Moushumi but is also the younger version of Champa Bai and Beni Bai. These are two very contrasting characters, and she portrays that very well on stage.
The settings are simple, yet elegant, and the line between the past and the present is almost a blur. The music composed by Shubha Mugdhal will make you wish it was available online. Each ghazal is more beautiful than the other, with some parody songs to add to the playlist. Director Purva Naresh has truly done an excellent job of putting everything together and making it a treat to watch.
Bandish 20 – 20,000 Hz will make you laugh, tear up, and even tap your feet. The play is returning to St. Andrews, Mumbai on the 29th of July. Make sure you don't miss it and while you wait for it, you can check out other plays from Aadyam here.