MPTF 2014 Theatre

Tagore: the man and his loves

A scene from Manav Kaul's Colour Blind  

Rabindranath Tagore’s life and works have been interpreted in various ways on stage, but Manav Kaul’s Colour Blind looks at the poet in a different light, that of a writer and above all, a human being.

Written by Manav Kaul, Kalki Koechlin and Dwijottam Bhattacharjee, and presented by aRANYA, Colour Blind traces Tagore’s life, from his lonely childhood, which he quirkily termed as ‘servocracy’, his “restless and conflicted youth” to his “achingly beautiful” relationship with Argentine writer Victoria Ocampo, whom he met when he was 65. The play also explores death, Tagore’s “thick-skinned and faithful companion” throughout his life, having faced a series of bereavement in his life.



Group: aRANYA

Director: Manav Kaul

Playwrights: Kalki Koechlin, Dwijottam Bhattacharjee, Manav Kaul

Language: English, Hindi, Bengali, French

Time: 75 minutes (no interval)

Rating: Ages 12 and above



“The play is written in Hindi and English. A student, played by Kalki, researching on Tagore, meets a professor who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the poet. During the course of the play, they transform into Victoria Ocampo and Tagore,” says Manav about Colour Blind, which he has also directed. Adding to the production are solo songs in Bengali.

Speaking of Tagore’s portrayal of death in his poetry, Manav says: “When you read Tagore, you can’t easily differentiate between love, death and compassion. In Colour Blind, there is, in fact, a character called Death. There is a powerful line that reveals Tagore’s insight on death. He says death does not signify the burning out of a lamp. There is no need of a lamp. Death is morning itself.”

Manav’s journey in theatre began in the 1990s in Madhya Pradesh.

He formed the theatre group aRANYA with like-minded friends in 2004. Among his most well-known plays are Shakkar Ke Paanch Daane, Peele Scooterwala Aadmi, Ilhaam, and Park.

He has also acted in films and was last seen as Bitto Mama in Kai Po Che and in Hansal Mehta’s CityLights.

Colour Blind will be staged at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram at 7.30 pm on August 16

A yen for experiment

Interview with Manav Kaul

How did you collaborate with Dwijottam and Kalki to write Colour Blind?

I needed someone who has a good knowledge on Tagore. That’s when I met Dwijottam. He knows a lot about Tagore. When Kalki joined in, I wanted her to write some parts of the script. She read up on Victoria Ocampo and wrote the parts about her. I wrote the basic thread of the play and the Hindi sections.

You have written about 11 plays. How have you evolved as a playwright?

Writing plays has been one of the most amazing things I have ever done. But you really have to be mad to be a playwright. It feels like throwing something into the darkness. People who write plays for money are missing the point. Theatre gives you so much freedom to experiment, without the barrier of money. And I like to do experimental theatre.

Does a play start with an idea? How different is it writing for films?

Playwriting happens naturally for me, and it happens when I am disturbed. Ilhaam was a reaction to how religion is viewed in this country. Park is about fighting over space. It disturbed me to know that people fight over space. Films are an extension of theatre. Writing Hansa felt like writing for theatre.

> See the full MPTF 2014 schedule here

> Tickets for all shows can be purchased online here

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 3:46:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/bangalore-theatre-fest-colour-blind-a-tribute-to-tagore/article6313035.ece

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