Curtain Call Theatre to stage Hindi play, ‘Petromax Panchayat’ in Hyderabad

Live music and technical finesse are high points of this Curtain Call Theatre production

January 18, 2024 03:56 pm | Updated 03:56 pm IST

A scene from the play

A scene from the play | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Theatre lovers are bound to walk out with a ‘smile on the face and a song in heart,’ says Surabhi Santhosh ahead of the staging of his Hindi play Petromax Panchayat in Hyderabad this weekend. The production explores serious issues in a fun and musical way.

Musical play

Surabhi Santhosh

Surabhi Santhosh | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Santosh, the founder of Curtain Call Theatre, who acted and directed the play, has always been fond of musical plays. In Petromax Panchayat, he plays Govind, a mechanic in love with a girl from Kedarwadi village in Solapur district of Maharashtra. The girl’s mother disapproves of the relationship and calls the village panchayat to banish Govind. The narrative centres on a petromax light that the villagers secured, which they do not know how to light. Since the only person who knows how to light it, is Govind, he is ‘forgiven’ for his relationship, for the sake of development. The narrative is presented with music and entertainment.

Encouraging response

A scene from the play

A scene from the play | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The play is an adaptation of Phanishwar Nath Mandal Renu’s classic short story Panchlait. Written between the 1930s and 1950s, Panchlait tells the story of a village in Bihar that has no electricity and where people are preoccupied in their own lives. Ever since Curtain Call first produced Venkata Govada’s adaptation in Telugu and staged it at Ravindra Bharathi in 2022, the play has been staged 25 times across the two Telugu states. Buoyed by the response, the play was adapted to Hindi and staged first in December 2023 with actors from Sutradhar and Rangadhara theatre groups.

Live music on stage

Kaanchi’s mother warns Govind...A scene from the play

Kaanchi’s mother warns Govind...A scene from the play | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The highlight of the production with its 21-member cast and crew is the live music where artistes sing seven songs to the beats of dappu, dholak and harmonium on stage. While Bade Venkateswara Rao wrote the Telugu songs, Adnan Bismillah penned the Hindi numbers.   “Being from a Surabhi family (the iconic theatre group of Telangana), my focus was on the technical aspects,” says Santosh, who also takes credit for the set design and lighting.

Actors during a dream sequence in the play

Actors during a dream sequence in the play | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Dream sequences and night scenes with fireflies glowing in the dark accentuate the musical story. He explains how a sugarcane field that becomes a meeting point for the couple was created on stage. “Foam sheets, cut like sugar cane, are tied to the waist of the actors who will wear green pants. With a fluttering wind, we have created an effect of a beautiful full moon night where the protagonist waits for the girl, followed by a dream sequence.”

Play time

Play time | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Cherishing these experiences of creating scenes with different moods on stage, Santosh hopes the theatre audience too will appreciate it.

Curtain Call Theatre stages Petromax Panchayat in Hindi at Telangana Saraswatha Parishath on January 20 from 7.30pm onwards; Tickets: ₹300 available on bookmyshow.com

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