Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

Love in the Time of Rainbows

A scene from A Straight Proposal. A scene from A Straight Proposal.
Written by Dipanita Nath | New Delhi | Posted: May 15, 2014 11:57 am

Happy Ranajit is a name that sticks in one’s memory. And the 30-year-old theatre actor, director and scriptwriter makes sure we think of him constantly. He was the Best Actor at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards in 2010, acted in 1,000 shows of the play Zangoora as one of the lead characters, Prince Shamsher, picked up the Best Actor prize for Richard III at the Gats International Theatre Festival in China in 2011, has published two scripts, directed 12 plays and is now presenting his most complex work, a tale of gay love titled A Straight Proposal. We spoke to the National School of Drama graduate about love, longing and Indian laws.

Edited excerpts:

Separation Laws
A friend of mine was into theatre. He died around two years ago. Mysteriously. All the while, his partner stayed constantly by his side and took care of him until the end. Yet, when my friend died, his partner could not participate in the last rites. He couldn’t even attend because questions would be asked. What kind of law would do this to
a lover?

Aborted Effort
I began to write A Straight Proposal long before the Supreme Court (SC) re-criminalised homosexuality. During my research, I had applied for a few Young Directors Festivals but was rejected. Nobody seemed to want my play on gay love and I stopped working on it. But, when the SC verdict came in, I thought there should be an
artistic response.

The Right One
At the centre of my story is a teacher who is looking for a partner. Each time he meets somebody, his love fails either because the other person is in another relationship or is afraid to commit or is simply incompatible with him. Things turn darker when a man he had met online dies of AIDS. As the teacher battles the trauma of being infected and the fear of getting himself tested, the orderly world he had carefully constructed for himself begins to fall apart.

Think Pink
During my research I found that Adolf Hitler had a badge shaped like a pink triangle to identify male prisoners who were sent to concentration camps because of their homosexuality. In my play, we have a chorus made up of boys called the Pink Entourage.

Legally Bound
The play is not bound by the laws of linear progression. It starts in 2013, then jumps backs to 1996 and then forward to 2003. This is because the structure of the play is based on a diary. Each scene is a page from a character’s diary, with the date referring to a day in the history of the LGBT movement and the page number referring to an article in the Indian Penal Code. In a way, every act becomes a crime in some way or the other.

Actors and Other Factors
We are lucky to have senior actors for this play, such as Dilip Shankar and Teekam Joshi. Even in our continued…

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