Gandhi and Einstein had great admiration for each other but they never met until this play—Two Fathers. Einstein had a daughter whom he never met and Gandhi could not resolve his troubled relationship with his eldest son until now—in this play. Imaya Shows, a relatively new theatre group from Goa, brings on stage the two towering legends and explores the theme of parenting, and the prevailing tension between parents and children.
Two Fathers was staged in Bengaluru to a packed theatre at Ranga Shankara which has cultivated a niche audience just like Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre. This is an original Indian play, specially commissioned and written for Imaya Shows by Sundar Sarukkai, Professor of Philosophy, National Institute of Advanced Studies. Its director Srinivas Bhashyam says, “We are proud to be associated with Sarukkai who has written a beautiful and excellent play on parenting skills. It has drawn houseful shows in Goa and now we are performing in four other states. We were invited by Ranga Shankara for two shows and it is an honour to perform here. This is not a boring, serious play but a play with deep human tones and performed in a way that everybody understands.”
Two Fathers portrays how Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi struggled at being the kind of parents that their children wanted them to be. It is a witty, intelligent exploration of the universal theme of the complex tensions between parents and children, and is connecting with every age group and every kind of audience.
The director adds, “We were very certain people will think and reflect about their families after seeing the play. Every creator hopes their theme will connect to life, especially the most important relationship between the parent and the child which is the most primal and complicated relationship. In fact, our play explores how great people too face these problems.”
Bhashyam has donned the role of Gandhi in this play and he says, “We auditioned many but could not find anybody and with the date of the show nearing, I had to cast myself. I am a lean and dark guy and people asked me to cast myself for this role. I was not keen on acting being the director. I am a control freak and with so many hats to wear, it becomes tough.”With a decade of experience in the film industry, Bhashyam reveals that he is a high school drop-out from Bengaluru. Dabbling in different fields, he worked as a graphic designer and film reviewer, and assisted well-known film directors like Girish Kasarvalli in Karnataka, and Kamal Haasan, Singeetam Srinivasa Rao and Mani Ratnam in Tamil Nadu.
Adding more feathers to his cap, he has written and directed two Hindi films Paisa Vasool (co-written with Anurag Kashyap) and Love Khichdi (co-written with journalist-novelist Manu Joseph), and a Kannada flick Shanthi! Shanthi! Shanthi! (co-written with Pradeep Sebastian and Utkal Mohanty). After this, he moved to Goa, the most livable place in India as he says, and went on to set up Imaya Shows with his partner, Sheeba Shah, the founder and producer of this group.
“With Konkani theatre dominating in Goa and English theatre – a big zero, we felt there was space for English with so many people speaking the language. In fact, our group is made up of a bunch of first time actors who are not full time. They are passionate and willing to learn and experiment,” explains Bhashyam.
Two Fathers was staged at the Goa Arts & Literature Festival, the Village Studio, Parra, Villa Paul, Nerul, Black Box, Kala Academy, Panjim and Museum of Goa, Pilerne. After a successful run in Goa and Bengaluru, they are staging this play at Kochi (on July 8 at JTPAC) and at Model United Nations in Chandigarh (on July 26) for a group of 500 students. They have been invited by the Indian Naval Academy to stage a special show and are likely to perform in Delhi, Pune and Hyderabad.
Imaya Shows is already working on its next play—a beautiful and ironic one that is about people being prisoners of technology. The director says, “We are one of the few theatre groups in India who are neither into foreign plays nor the amazing Shakespearean dramas. I am more interested in universal themes that can connect to the people. We started only 1.5 years ago; we don’t have a permanent set-up but have discovered a couple of young actors who will develop into better actors. Being a flexible group, we have done a couple of theatre and poetry sessions but our main focus is staging plays,” signs off Bhashyam.