The story is set in the dusty bylanes of mid-19th century Lucknow. Work is on in full swing at the Royal Peacock Garden,where a magnificent cage is being built to house 40 talking mynas. Soon,the cage and its lively,twittering occupants are entrusted to Kale Khan,a loyal employee. But Khan has a weakness he has a little daughter,motherless and forlorn,who has long since been asking for her very own myna. The dilemma of a father who wants his daughters happiness is the crux of a new childrens play,titled Taoos Chaman Ki Myna,which will be staged in Pune by Mumbai-based Gillo Theatre Repertory. The show is part of the year-round school
programme curated by theatre group Junoon for Delhi Public School,Pune.
Based on a short story in Urdu by Lucknow-born writer Naiyer Masud,it was adapted for the stage by writer Atul Tiwari. The original story is part of a collection of short stories that won Masud the Urdu Sahitya Akademi award in 2001 and the Saraswati Samman in 2007. The play has been selected for National School of Dramas Bharat Rang Mahotsav,scheduled for next year.
Shaili Sathyu,the artistic director of Gillo Theatre Repertory,is also the creative director for Taoos Chaman Ki Myna. I came across this story when I was doing a reading session with a group of children. Their response was overwhelming and I was surprised. Thats when I decided to adapt it for theatre, she says. Gillo Theatre Repertory works exclusively in theatre for young audiences,and has staged plays such as Suar Chala Space Ko (2010),Kyun-Kyun Ladki (2011) and Hanuman Ki Ramayan (2012).
For Tiwari,who is also directing the play,one of the most charming things about the story was that it was based in a bygone era in Lucknow. I am a hardcore Lucknowite and the story struck a chord with me,as it did with many others, says Tiwari,who is busy with the plays rehearsals in Mumbai these days.
The man who has written the screenplay for films such as Vishwaroopam (Hindi) and Mission Kashmir,Tiwari says he has taken the creative liberty to reinterpret certain scenes in the story. I went to see the ailing author in Lucknow and read out scenes from my play. He was happy with the result, says Tiwari.
The play is being performed outside Mumbai for the first time. Sathyu says they have received a positive feedback about the plays dialogues and structure and that it was not overly childish. We have kept most of the dialogues in Urdu,in keeping with the gentle cadence of an earlier century, she says.
The lead roles are being played by Vighnesh Sinkar,Manoj Kumar Karki,Vianca Varma,Afsana Ahmed,Sharvari Deshpande and Devina Medda. The sets have been designed by Sathyu,while the music is by Amod Bhatt and choreography by Pooja Pant. Tanya Mahajan has done the costumes and Tiwari and Nazeer Akabarabadi have written the lyrics.