'A Muslim in the Midst' review: a play that makes you ask difficult questions

This play will leave you asking yourself difficult questions

August 02, 2019 11:52 am | Updated 02:35 pm IST

Most of us would not share an enclosed space with strangers, much less with those who are blatantly different. A Muslim in the Midst has two couples confined in a car for the duration of a ride across town.

Anand Rao initially wrote A Muslim in the Midst as a short story and says it stemmed from a real-life experience. “While waiting to pick up my wife from work, I noticed this Muslim couple with two young children unsuccessfully try to flag down an auto. It was getting rather late and I finally decided to ask them if they cared for a lift. They were thankful and we dropped them where they could catch a ride to their destination.”

The 90-minute one-act play pretty much mirrors how that evening panned out. There is not much scope for conversation between a modern, young couple and a conservative one, but that impulsive, one-off incident got Anand thinking about the vagaries of the human mind and its conditioning. Anand has set his play on September 14, 2001, three days after 9/11.

There is a marked difference between the two couples. From their manner of speaking (a North Karnataka dialect and rather Anglicised Kannada) to their world views. In this play, the Muslim couple is depicted as poor, with knowledge limited to their rural upbringing in sharp contrast to the urbane Hindu couple.

What begins as rather uneventful ride with random elements of humour, takes a turn, thanks to a radio broadcast on the aftermath of 9/11.



Anand, who has faced a lot of flak just for the title of the play, says he fleetingly considered changing it to, ‘A Hindu in the Midst’, but adds, “It honestly would not have changed anything about the play.”

“This is not a literal play and there is no resolution to it. Its conclusion is directly proportional to the belief in your heart and is open to debate. Each character portrayed in the play is normal in their own world. Put in an unfamiliar situation, they are caught up in an intellectual conflict,” he says.

This 90-minute play will not have an interval. “It is being depicted in real time. Each character portrayed is normal in their own world. Now, put into an unfamiliar situation, they are caught up in an intellectual conflict,” says Anand.The play will force viewers to introspect on their preconceived notions. A Kannada version of this play Nammolagobba Mussalmana is also in the making.

Anand’s sister Rachna Prasad, who is directing and producing the play says, “It was challenging to take on this play for Indian audiences after it was staged so many times abroad. We also had to go through a lot of auditions as a lot of actors signed up to be a part of this play.”

 Karnataka Bengaluru       25/07/2019    Artists Ananda Rao and Rachana ,pic to go with Metro Plus Report.
Photo:   Sampath Kumar G P /The Hindu

Karnataka Bengaluru 25/07/2019 Artists Ananda Rao and Rachana ,pic to go with Metro Plus Report. Photo: Sampath Kumar G P /The Hindu

The first reading of A Muslim in the Midst took place in March 2016 in the US and was well received. Over the years, it has won severalaccolades. It was selected to the International Voices Project 2018 in Chicago and opened the 15th South Asian Theatre Festival 2017 in New Jersey.

A Muslim in the Midst comes to India for the first time with an original score by Prakash Sontakke, lighting by Pradeep Belawadi, choreography by Harsha and the set design by Prashanth Kumar. Actors in the lead roles are Adit Abraham, Avinash Mudappa, Dimpy Fadhya and Shilpa Rudrappa. The play will premiere on August 2, with subsequent shows continuing till September 8. Proceeds from the sale of tickets will go to Chiranthana, an NGO for children with special needs.

The play will be staged on August 2, at 6.30 pm at BHIVE Workspace, HSR Layout; on August 3 at 7.30 pm, at Shoonya, Brahmananda Court, Lal Bagh Main Road. Tickets are on on bookmyshow.com

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