Sindhu Murthy and K.R. Omkar portray the tumultuous life of Mexican painter in various shades in My Diego, My Art

The surrealist painter Frida Kahlo’s tumultuous life has been the subject of films and books. Bringing her life in its most intense shades on stage in Bangalore, are theatre personalities Sindhu Murthy and K.R. Omkar.

My Diego, My Art, written by Sindhu, directed by Omkar and presented by Mi Amor, is a larger-than-life portrayal of Kahlo’s life and her devotion to her lover, Diego Rivera, a prominent Mexican painter. The play is a passionate love story that brings together romance, art, infidelity, heart break and bisexuality, and above all, the incredible life of a master painter: Frida Kahlo. Sindhu’s fascination with Kahlo began when she watched the biopic Frida in 2002. It led her to delve deep into Kahlo’s life. “Research was a rigorous process. I went through her biographies, Diego’s biographies and other works. For the performance, I have even incorporated her poetry from her diary.” We have had numerous psycho-physical exercises and dance sessions,” explains Omkar.

My Diego, My Art is not a sorrowful representation of Frida’s life, says the duo. “We were clear that we didn’t want to make a tragedy-filled play. It is a celebration of the art and life of Frida,” says Omkar. Sindhu adds: “It will uncover her personality. In the film Frida, Diego is shown to be an evil man. In reality, he was very attractive, and had an immense sensibility as an artist.”

Essaying a solo performance had its set of challenges, says Sindhu. “Her story is inspirational and universal. She had a lust for life, braved accidents, surgical interventions on her body, had abortions and suffered from polio as child. She met with a major accident when she was 18. That’s when she started painting. She was infatuated by Diego. She made overtures. She chased him, dumped everything, despite knowing that he was promiscuous and unfaithful to her. She started painting only to impress Diego. She didn’t paint to exhibit; it was only towards the fag end of her life that she had her first solo exhibition. Her life was in itself so dramatic. She had connections with Pablo Neruda, Trotsky, Pablo Picasso.”

Omkar adds that there is profane language in the play—as that was how Frida spoke—but they have ensured that the production is aesthetically beautiful. “The structure and design of the play is in synch with Surrealism and free association,” says Sindhu. “The narrative is non-linear, with the script moving back and forth,” says Omkar.

Sindhu, a former journalist, quit her public relations job to pursue theatre full time. From the passion that blazes in her eyes, you can sense this young, talented artist's commitment to theatre. “I knew journalism was not in my destiny. I gave it all up to pursue theatre.” She has trained under legendary theatre personality Habib Tanvir, and has been part of the late thespian’s productions, such as Jin Lahore Nahin Dekhya and Charandas Chor, besides working in other productions, such as Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage, Girish Karnad’s Yayati, Kalidasa’s Shakuntala, Kijima Hajime’s Sukitorime, among others.

Omkar, an alumnus of the National School of Drama, is a theatre director, actor and actor trainer. He has directed plays in various languages. “Omkar and I met at the Ninasam, Heggodu cultural course in October. We got talking and thought why don’t we do something? We began work last year in November-December,” says Sindhu of her association with Omkar for My Diego, My Art. A solo performance had its set of challenges for Sindhu. “Omkar and I have spent a lot of time in this studio,” she points to the secluded, yet cosy space on CMH road where they rehearse. “I required solitary confinement. I spent time getting her accent right. This piece of work has liberated me as an artist.”

My Diego, My Art will be staged at Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield on July 19 and 20 at 8 p.m. and on July 21 at 3 and 6.30 p.m. Tickets are available at www.bookmyshow.com and at the venue. Call 8095444535.