An Evening in Bombay

Dipanita Nath, Expressindia

An aggressive reporter looks back at her career, in which she has added noisy sound bytes to tragic events; a woman talks about how she is constantly the subject of her husband’s jokes; a famous child star finds out that she has grown up and, if she wants to remain in showbiz, she must start all over again — these varied yet deeply personal stories make up Bombay Talkies, a play by writer-director Vikram Kapadia that has impressed critics since it premiered at the NCPA in Mumbai a few months ago. The play, spanning more than two hours and filled with dark moments, very dark moments and a few rays of optimism, will be staged in Delhi next month.

Bombay Talkies — a reminder of a famous film studio in Mumbai by the same name — unfolds as a series of eight monologues, recounted by actors such as Darshan Jariwalla, Zafar Karachiwala, Rasika Duggal  Anahita Uberoi and Ishita Arun. Aditya Rawal, the son of acclaimed stage and filmactor Paresh Rawal, plays a young Patel boy from Gujarat, standing in line for a US visa and talking about his romance.

The acting is minimal — the characters on stage merely talk to the audience, intimately and without artifice. “I was firm about the fact that there should be very little movement. I don’t believe in movements during monologues. Would you listen to me if I were walking around the room and talking?” says Kapadia.

He adds that Bombay Talkies is unlikely to make for a “fun evening, though there are moments of laughter”. The darkest and the most difficult for Kapadia is the last segment, a piece that takes place in the future in 2019. “I keep going back to this piece and rewriting it. It is set in a world where people have a chip embedded inside them, and can wipe out all bad memories and be happy all the time,” he says. Kapadia takes turns with Karachiwala to play the protagonist of this section, a man whose chip has become defective and, suddenly, his vestigial brain kicks back to life. The play is set in Mumbai, and attempts to reveal the many layers of Maximum City. But, as Punjabi, who plays television reporter Neha Chopra points out: “A loud, sensationalist journalist can be found in any city.” Ditto for the other storytellers.

Bombay Talkies will be staged at Epicentre, Gurgaon, on July 7 and 8.Contact: 0124-2715000

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