The Invisible River explores the Ganges and its relationship with people
Playwright Gautam Raja’s The Invisible River portrays the Ganges as not only a sacred site, but also as a source of sustenance. Gautam developed the play with Theatrescience UK. The play initially was a science story, but gradually emerged as “a political, religious and human story.”
The play debuted in London, and is now being staged at Jagriti Theatre as part of its Season Twenty Twelve theatre festival. Director Vivek Madan says that collaborating with Gautam was made easy by their personal equation. However, he decided to focus primarily on the human story. “I wanted to portray the cascading effects the Ganges has on people, whether they are religious or not.”
The play, Vivek says, revolves around the concept of belief. “It is about how much one’s interactions with others affect his beliefs. And also how belief is sometimes challenged.” Gautam, however, adds that the play “does not provide any answers.”
“The story,” Vivek explains further, “emerges from the interactions among the characters and the characters and the river.” Vivek has kept the sets minimal and for the score has used original music, composed by Rajesh Mehar and Vamshi Raghu, which he says “adds tranquillity to the play.”
Through the individual accounts of Uma, a young scientist who believes that the Ganges “could be a starting point of a new era of disease eradication”, Dr. Ajay, a government doctor “who believes that the river should be cleaned up” and a little boy who “wonders why he has to bathe there when they have a perfectly serviceable bathroom back home,” the play reveals the complex association Indians have with the Ganges. In the UK, where the play premiered, Gautam observed that the audience members were “puzzled by what the Ganges means to Indians.”
The characters are distinctly etched, though Gautam found it easier to write Uma’s character as she is from Bangalore than he did Dr. Ajay’s.
The Invisible River will be staged till October 12 at 8 p.m. at Jagriti Theatre.
Anumeha Fatehpuria, Aryan Jagtap, Sachin Gurjale, Jimmy Xavier, Archana Srivatsan and Poile Sengupta will act in the play. Tickets are available at the venue.