It takes a while to grasp what is happening at the rehearsal for House of Shops, an experimental play based on Bandra’s bustling Bazaar Road. A film that features the owners of the shops that line the busy street is projected on a screen. As the play progresses, a number of art forms are employed — the screen turns into a stage for shadow puppetry, short dance routines are thrown in and the actors paint on stage.
Part of a larger project on Bazaar Road, conceived by Collage Collective, an open community of artists, House of Shops will see actors narrating personal stories, interspersed with those of the people they spoke to on Bazaar Road. The devised play will be staged at Ravindra Natya Mandir on Friday and Sunday.
Reshma Shetty, director of the play, says, “We wanted to bring in the flavour of the street — the sights and sounds, the ambience, and the narrowness of the road.” Shetty sent out her troupe to speak to people who work on the street and found commonalities with them.
The director recounts how Karishma Shetty found a vegetable vendor with a double major just as she does. “Both of them are hoping to go abroad soon, the vendor to Canada, and Shetty to the US. Kunal Vijaykar, an architect-turned-photographer found a masala vendor who, just like him, stumbled into the career he is currently in. Vijaykar realised that both of them are going through a similar emotional journey of self-doubt and an uncertain future,” says Shetty, a first-time director.
These stories give the viewer a sense of the street, the struggle of the people, the businesses they run, and the diverse communities that live there.
The play comments on communal tensions as well. “There is negativity brimming. It came up in our conversations. But the street is all about business, and for business to survive, they choose to coexist,” says Shetty.