Kabuliwala, the popular Bengali narrative by Rabindranath Tagore, has been adapted more than a few times for stage and for good reason.
It’s a tale that has been etched in the annals of history as a heartwarming sketch of filial affection. As the version that has achieved continued recognition in the city with a minor modification in the name (‘C’ instead of ‘K’ because that’s how Tagore spelt it in the English translation of the story), The Cabuliwala is back for the 50th time.
The play that debuted in 1994, was a dramatised storytelling by veteran artist Jalabala Vaidya with musical accompaniment by the late Gopal Sharman. Later, senior artiste Sunit Tandon portrayed the lead of The Cabuliwala. The storyline has remained unaltered ever since, however, the cast has been shuffled a bit.
It’s RS Raghu, Akshara Theatre’s well-respected repertory artiste who is the protagonist this time. “A classic play like this gives you the chance to understand a lot more than a regular play because we’ve grown up on the story,” he says, adding, “When I used to hear it as a child, all I would wish for was for the Kabuliwala to visit me and surprise me with nuts and goodies as he did for Mini. As I grew older, I realised the story was about so much more than free food.”
For this role, Raghu reached out to an Afghani friend from college and observed him down to the last detail.
He also referred the 1961 Kabuliwala film, in which actor Balraj Sahni play the protagonist. What he likes best about the story is its simplicity.
“You take any work by Tagore and you’ll be able to identify with it. There’s no stretched drama, just a straightforward story.”
Just like the Kabuliwala, acceptance of reality is the only way forward. On: November 10, 5:00pmAt: Akshara Theatre, 11B, Baba Kharak Singh Marg (next to RML Hospital)
About The Kabuliwala
This is classic, penned by Rabindranath Tagore, highlights the unusual friendship between a five-year-old girl Mini, and Rahman, the Cabuliwala from Afghanistan who sells nuts, clothing and other things from his country.