Five years ago, with an idea to create a platform for people who wanted to experiment with theatre, Bengaluru-based Abhishek Iyengar, a theatre enthusiast, decided to start his own theatre group.
“In Bengaluru, there are very few theatre groups that encourage youngsters and amateur theatre enthusiasts to explore their talent in this field. I faced a lot of problems myself. It seemed like only if one had money or contacts, one could explore further. That’s when I decided to create a platform for everyone who was interested in art and theatre and wanted to explore that side of them without any hindrances,” recalls Abhishek, who has been into theatre since his school days, and is the founder and director of the theatre group, which he named ‘WeMove Theatre’ (WMT).
Founded in 2006, this group consists of people from all walks of life – full-time actors, part-time actors, and the founder himself is an IT consulant.
“WMT has a wide repertoire of people – who are not only interested in acting, but also in other forms of art, like music for instance. And they also contribute towards the plays through their music and painting skills,” he points out.
Ask him for the reason behind the name and prompt comes the reply, “It has always been a group thing, that’s why the name begins with a ‘We’. Furthermore, we wanted to change the perception of theatre, we wanted to move theatre into a different arena. That’s why the name ‘WeMoveTheatre’.” 10 productions and 51 shows later, WMT, will make its presence felt in Hyderabad for the first time with one of their most successful productions titled Malgudi Daze.
The play is an adaptation of the stories written by R K Narayan under the title Malgudi Days.
One may wonder if the ‘Daze’ is a deliberate turn of the word ‘Days’, and Abhishek affirms it by explaining, “With a huge production team, we worked on this play for about oneand- a-half years and once it was finally completed, the whole thing seemed like a dream come true – like a daze. Hence the name.” But what made the group zero in on stories that have already been read and watched and loved? It is but natural to draw comparisons between the play, and the books/serial.
Agreeing, Abhishek explains, “Initially, we were very apprehensive about doing a play on Malgudi Days. However, the primary idea behind adapting R K Narayan’s work was to venture into Indian literary works. There are plays that have been adapted from writings of Shakespeare and other western classics, but not many from Indian literary works. That was our incentive to bring out this production.” The play has been staged around 14 times, and has been well-appreciated by many.
Abhishek recalls, “I met some of R K Narayan’s students who have watched the play, and they said that it was like a dream come true on stage.” Malgudi Daze consists of six to eight stories from the books, out of which four will be showcased on stage.
“We have tried to do justice with the stories withing the limitations of the stage,” he says.
However, intriguingly, the play doesn't draw from the largely popular Swami and Friends.
“When people think about Malgudi Days, they only think about Swami and Friends. We wanted to show people that those characters are just a part of Malgudi; instead we wanted to give a whole different picture of the place. That's why the play has stories of people like the astrologer of Malgudi and Rama Rao, among others. Furthermore, we have also introduced a new character – the grandmother, who sort of binds all these stories together.”
Abhishek, who has not only written the script for the play, but has also directed it, informs that the play also accomodates a few facts about the playwright, which probably not many people are aware about.
Composed by Vasu Dixit from the band Swarathma, the background score is the USP of the play, and has been wellreceived.
"I hope that people love the music as much as they loved the original one,” says Abhishek, adding, “I am sure we will connect with the audience in Hyderabad and I hope we will be able to bring back some of their childhood Malgudi Days’ memories.” Malgudi Daze will be staged on April 1, at Lamakan, 7 pm onwards.