Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Twelfth on Thirteenth: An Interview with Atul Kumar

Known as the greatest playwright and poet of the English language, William Shakespeare's works have been a muse to every author, playwright, filmmaker and actor to walk the planet. His plays form the spine of the texts that constitute the syllabus of English literature in school and most of his works are performed over and over again, in some form or the other. Shakespeare adaptations and renditions are a cluttered space, but breaking the clutter is a Hindi play based on The Bard's renowned comedy -- The Twelfth Night.

Directed by Atul Kumar, Piya Behrupiya is a translation of Shakespeare's twisted love story. Having tried his hand at Hamlet and King Lear, this is Atul's first Shakespearean comedy. "We have done a lot of Shakespeare's works in the past. Our adaptation of King Lear, titled Nothing Like Lear, has had tremendous response. We wanted to try our hand at comedy so we picked Twelfth Night," Atul says. According to him, "Its plot is like a classical bollywood drama where A loves B, B loves C, and unrequited love makes people resort to extreme measures."

Atul believes that the essence of Shakespeare lies in its adaptations that are done by various people at various times. "Shakespeare's themes are universal. Therefore, the essence and emphasis differs from who is adapting the work and in what context," he says. He also adds, "Every time someone performs a Shakespearean play, something new comes up in it. That is the brilliance of his work and that's what makes it timeless -- the fact that it keeps churning out newer dimensions to look at it."

Unlike most plays based on the work of the literary genius, Piya Behrupiya is only a literal translation of the original play. There are no additions or alterations and even the names of the characters have been retained from the original script. "Amitosh Nagpal, who translated the play, has done an excellent job in maintaining the message from the original play. But at the same time, he has Indianised the plot in such a way that one will not say it was written by a British author."

The play will be staged in the city tonight and Atul is confident that the play will be well received by the Pune audience. He says, "Audience in Pune is not new to our work. We have performed here before, and people have loved us." The theatre tradition of the city is rich, no doubt, but Atul and his troupe want to take this play to the smaller towns of Maharashtra too. The stories written nearly half a millennium ago continue to spread widely transcending the boundaries of language and culture.

Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on October 13, 2012

No comments:

Post a Comment