Abhishek Majumdar's new play An Arrangement of Shoes was read out to an interested audience
Abhishek Majumdar the playwright, paced around barefooted, jeans rolled up, fitting the stereotypical image of a theatrical personage, waiting for his audience to roll in. A voice lisped ‘teshting, teshting' into the mike, while the audience slowly filtered in, making a beeline for a cup of coffee and cookies before settling down. The drizzle outside, added to the cozy ambience for the reading of Majumdar's new play – “ An Arrangement of Shoes” organised by the Toto Funds the Arts.
Obviously still in draft form, the “play” could have easily been mistaken for a short story and a very interesting story at that, revolving around an obsessive, compulsive shoe stealer/collector. Mazumdar had divided his whole play into what he called ‘beats' and even though it was a long reading, the audience listened to him, in complete silence. He conjured up word pictures effortlessly – “imagine her running around with a knife and a green scarf, cutting mice halal.” Or “Daadijaan secretly sang odes to the sugar cane and the sugar levels rose according to the growers.”
Later Swar Thounaojam, a Bangalore-based playwright who is currently teaching a theatre programme at The Valley School in Bangalore, asked Majumdar if the protagonists in his play were fictional or derived from links to real people in his life. Mazumdar like any artist said that he did use real life characters, whom he came across sometimes in everyday life, but some of them were actually fictional.
Swar also noted that Mazumdars earlier work — “Harlesden High Street”, which won the Hindu MetroPlus Playwright's Award 2008 was a structured play, while “The Land of Ups and Downs”, which was long-listed for the same award in 2009 and “An Arrangement of Shoes” were fluid in their construction. To which Mazumdar remarked, that he wanted every play to sound different and “An Arrangement of Shoes' had not yet found a point where it could be ‘fixed' as yet.
When Swar asked: “What kind of world do you carry inside your head?” Mazumdar replied: “The world in my head is nothing special. I live a normal day to day life with nothing to write on some days. Then I just go outside and play cricket. I am just a very usual person in my head.”
As for his theatrical influences: “I have been influenced by music and not theatre,” reveals Mazumdar. “There was always Hindustani classical music played in my house and maybe the fluidity of improvisation there has unwittingly seeped into my playwriting.” Writer C.K. Meena, compered and encouraged a relaxed interaction rather than a stiff, question answer debate.