Exploring the cliche

Theatre is used to express all kinds of emotions, with a range that can take audiences from states of deep introspection to splits of laughter. The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Fest plans to do just that with its selection of plays for the 2013 edition. With India’s most popular film industry completing 100 years this year, theatre decides to celebrate the good, the bad and the funny as far as Bollywood is concerned.

Bollywood KEE-MAA

Evam Entertainment,


Bollywood turns 100 this year and Evam Bangalore celebrates the spirit of the ‘woods’ with a tribute performance cheekily titled Bollywood KEE-MAA. Five actors from the award winning theatre group bring twists to evergreen Bollywood tales with a hilarious take on the clichés used over the years. Get ready to be enthralled as Ram and Lakhan, Vijay and Basanti, Ramu Kaka and many others grace the stage for 75 minutes of pure entertainment.

UK-based Gavin Robertson, who shares the playwright’s title with four others (Sunil Vishnu K., Mathangi Krishnamoorthi, Yudhishthir Rana and Naren Weiss), is the director of Bollywood KEE-MAA. Talking about his experience as an audience member of Bollywood, Gavin says, “My own experience is limited as you might expect, but peripherally I really liked Bride and Prejudice for its interpretation of a classic, and I thought Dabangg was marvellous for its balance between parody and storytelling.”

Gavin and the producers decided to use a well-known folk tale as a springboard for the play. “So we used Beauty and the Beast as a start point although you would never know now from what we have created that it was ever woven into the fabric of the show!”

He hopes that the audience will go in with an open mind, be prepared to smile, and, Gavin adds, “Don't worry! Everything will be revealed if you sit back and let it wash over you. The style uses mime and set-moving as much as it does words and acting. But let the clichés work their magic!”

At its core, the play is “every Bollywood film you've ever seen!” Gavin reveals, “So it has a hero, a heroine, her disciplinarian father, and a villain who wants to destroy everyone for personal gain. If you bear that in mind, you've already seen it!” While the title is an interesting bit of word play Gavin says it was the last thing to arrive in the process. “All the way through the devising and rehearsal I called it 'the Bollywood play'. I can only credit Evam for the eventual decision!” he adds.

Of the cross-cultural experience of working with Indian theatre group Evam, he says, “It was very interesting and quite a learning curve for all of us. My theatre style is very focussed on the actors and I think they were shocked just how much of the style was not about learning lines and acting. That they all have ‘other’ jobs was something I had to take on board, as we all got quite tired. The rehearsals started at 8 a.m., and as we theatre folk are not necessarily morning people, I, in particular found the lack of 'on-tap' coffee a challenge!”

Playing on August 3 at 7.30 p.m., JT Pac, Tripunithra.

Director’s Cut

Gavin Robertson

Bollywood KEE-MAA

Did you find the stage in any way restricting or liberating, while creating a Bollywood tribute?

Oh, I love finding solutions. It was my idea to use only five frames as our set, as we then have the problem of creating environments in which to set the onstage action. But the imagination of the audience is our greatest secret weapon! If we can provoke or stimulate the individual imagination of each audience member, we have the best set possible... it looks far better and the audience see far more in their mind's eye than is actually physically present onstage.

What is the play going to be like, visually?

I asked for a lighting design that is far more like a dance design than drama, so it will be both precise and atmospheric. I use a lot of side-lighting which lights the actors far more than the stage itself, so that they almost 'float' in space. You can expect it to be both funny but beautiful!

What is your vision for the play?

I hope that the play successfully uses the clichés from the film genre to tell an original but typical story. Obviously, I want as many people to see it as possible in India but I understand touring theatre is difficult. It would be fantastic if we can bring it to the UK but I suspect the references will be far less well-known and there may have to be re-writes in order to almost educate an audience here at the same time as parodying the results.

The Schedule:

August 2: How to Skin a Giraffe

August 3: Bollywood KEE-MAA

August 4: Some Times

Venue: JTPac, Tripunithura

For the detailed schedule of MPTF 2013 in all five cities, click here.


Price: Rs. 300, Rs. 200 & Rs. 100. Season passes at Rs. 750 & Rs. 500

Tickets will also be available at The Hindu Office - Vytilla, DC Books - Kurian Towers , DC Penguin - Bay Pride Mall

Helpline numbers: +9198406 12333 / +9198402 36367

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 11:33:44 AM |

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