Theatre

Love has no gender

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Ondu Preetiya Kathe, a Kannada adaptation of a Marathi play dwells into issues of homosexual relationships

The human race hasn’t mastered the art of overcoming unrequited love. It doesn’t matter whether this is love for someone from the same sex or the other gender. Speaking through Preethi’s response to the ‘natural romantic love’ she feels for another woman, Ondu Preetiya Kathe, is the first play in Kannada, which ventures into interpreting homosexuality in a college girl.

Based on veteran playwright Vijay Tendulkar’s Marathi play Mitrachi Goshta, the Kannada rendition found a noveau platform of expression via the Bangalore Theatre Collective, quite by chance. “To be honest,” says Venkatesh Prasad, translator of this work, and director of Ondu Preetiya Kathe, “I did not plan to direct a play on this theme . We were looking for a good play as our third production, and I was reading many scripts, both from India and the West. A friend suggested this Marathi play, and we got the English translation of it. The first time I read it, I decided I want to do this play. The text was an eye opener to everyone at the Bangalore Theatre Collective. We found it surprising that there has been no Kannada play addressing a woman’s homosexuality in all these years! We also realised that there is very little literature, very few movies, and very less theatre work on homosexuality in Kannada.”

Having found fresh motivation, the Bangalore Theatre Collective has given Kannada theatre a gender-sensitive lease of life via its transposing of Tendulkar’s work from a pre-Independence setting to a modern-day college environment. The play, intense acting down to the body language of the performers, befitting music, and some filmy dance too, add to the flavour of this touching rendition of a story of love and loss, told through the eyes of a sensitive male character.

But then, it hasn’t been easy casting the characters, confirms team member Sushma Rao. “Ujwala, the assistant director of the play doubled up as actor to play the lead role as Preethi,” she says. “It was both shocking and surprising to learn that many actors did not want Preethi’s role, though she is the protagonist. Many actors we approached backed out because they were not ready to do this role.”

Having overcome the initial snags in casting, Ondhu Preetiya Kathe has a galaxy of intense actors including Ujwala Rao, Shrunga BV, Vyjayanthi Adiga, Vishal Patil and Sunil Kumar who play serious emotions and humour with equal ease.

Complementing this talented cast is a crew including HC Dwaraknath and Dhanush on the sets, Sumeru Rout and Sylvester Pradeep on music, lighting by Vinay Chandra P and Arun DT, choreography by Praveen, design by Baadal Nanjundaswamy, and backstage work by Amit Reddy, Sanjay Bharadwaj and Jayashankar.

Steadfast in their endeavour to keep the dialogue about gender-neutral love active, the Bangalore Theatre Collective has staged over 15 shows of this sensitive play.

Catch the next show of Ondu Preetiya Kathe on Wednesday, January 23, at 7.30 pm, Ranga Shankara. Tickets priced at ₹ 150 are available on bookmyshow and at the venue.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 4:06:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/love-has-no-gender/article26060584.ece

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