Glo­cal

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How­ever, as the man­ner­isms and cos­tumes echo In­dian heart­lands, one won­ders how fine the line is be­tween trans­la­tion and adaptation. “We haven’t changed names. The place is still Il­lyria; the char­ac­ters are Orsino, Vi­ola and Olivia. But the lan­guage and the set­ting have to blend. Ce­sario be­comes ‘Ce­jario’ and An­drew Aguecheek, played by a Ben­gali ac­tor, is An­drew dada,” Ku­mar ex­plains. It seemed to have worked for the crowd at the play’s Delhi open­ing. Ce­sario’s self-in­tro­duc­tion to Olivia, “I am from very good fam­ily. But dis­turbed per­son­ally,” was ac­com­pa­nied by shouts of laugh­ter and Olivia’s hi­lar­i­ous ode Ce­jario left peo­ple in splits.

The stylis­tic influence is of nau­tanki plays, where a trav­el­ling troupe puts up heav­ily im­pro­vised song and dance shows, sans sets. Piya Behrupiya, too, has no sets. The Globe does not al­low for those; some­thing the crew has in­cor­po­rated in their In­dian shows. The act­ing and the mu­sic carry the play and the whis­tles in Ka­mani Au­di­to­rium stand tes­ti­mony. The folk mu­sic is part self­com­posed, part songs from Pun­jab, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Bun­delk­hand. The high­light is the qawwali be­tween An­drew dada and Se­bas­tian (played by Nag­pal) in which they hurl the basest of in­sults at each other to Sufi mu­sic. Ga­gan Dev Riar, the com­poser and the ac­tor play­ing Sir Toby Belch, elab­o­rates on the process. “We’ve taken mu­sic from dif­fer­ent re­gions in In­dia. We’ve changed lyrics to ex­plain sit­u­a­tions, and for some scenes we com­posed our own songs,” he says. “Once we started se­lect­ing, we got a fair idea of the sound we wanted.”

A two-and-a-half hour show with 18 songs must in­vite com­par­isons to Bol­ly­wood. “Of course, it did,” laughs Mantra Mugdh, who plays An­drew dada. “But then Bol­ly­wood owes ev­ery­thing to Shake­speare. This play, though, is very the­atre-spe­cific.” As Toby con­stantly breaks the fourth wall, call­ing for “au­di­ence in­ter­ac­tion”, Se­bas­tian in his ribtick­ling su­trad­har avatar tries to ex­plain the plot, say­ing “Yeh daily soap nahin hai, Shake­speare hai Shake­speare”, Mugdh’s state­ment rings true.

Ku­mar calls his trans­la­tor “an ac­tor who writes”. Nag­pal’s script car­ries off both the witty word­play and sheer slap­stick, that ap­peals dif­fer­ently to var­i­ous au­di­ences. “Peo­ple in Lon­don laughed in dif­fer­ent places than the In­dian au­di­ence. We didn’t ex­pect that. In fact, for one song ev­ery­one in The Globe raised their hands and swayed to the mu­sic. We felt like rock­stars,” re­calls Mugdh. TCT re­minds us why Shake­speare lives on in ev­ery cul­ture — these are sto­ries of peo­ple, power, love and sex.

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