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Rashomon Effect

Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon has been adapted several times on stage,the world over.

Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece Rashomon has been adapted several times on stage,the world over. Now,a Delhi troupe presents its version of the film — Five Elementz,a troupe which has earlier tackled Godfather and Padosan with reasonable success has given Rashomon a Hindi makeover,complete with ethnic costumes.

“Cinemas are packed but theatres go empty. The audience for good plays is dwindling. We’re trying to bring people back to theatre by adapting hit films for the stage,” says Manuv Mehra,general secretary of Five Elementz. The group works only on masterpieces in cinema,and this time Rashomon got their vote. This is both easy and difficult — the cult status of the film would ensure a sizeable audience for the play but “on the other hand,there’s no scope for mistakes”.

Rashomon,the film,takes place in 12th century Japan when a samurai and his wife are attacked by the bandit Tajomaru. The samurai is killed and Tajomaru subsequently captured. At the trial,however,the wife,the bandit and the woodcutter give different versions of the events that led to the death. When the samurai’s spirit is called from the dead,his version contradicts everybody else’s. “The film shows how four people see the same event from four perspectives. Who is telling the truth? Nobody knows. What is the truth?” asks director Anupam Dixit,who watched Rashomon twice before working with the actors.

Rashomon,the play,is hour-long and the action takes place in urban India,the samurai becomes a landlord and Tajomaru’s name has been changed to Taranath. “He looks normal,dresses in a black kaftan and behaves as if crime is regular day’s work for him,” says Mehta,who plays the bandit. The sword-fighting sequences between the bandit and the samurai has been specially choreographed and the psychic scenes unfold through a group dance. “The play opens the way the film does,with three men taking shelter in a dilapidated gatehouse and narrating the story of the murder. We’ve used lighting and special effects for the rain and thunder,” says Mehra. It’s said nobody watches Rashomon just once,will that hold true for the play?

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Rashomon will be held as part of a two-play package called Two Twisted at Poorva Sanskritik Kendra on July 24.
Contact: 9313702251

First published on: 16-07-2009 at 12:21:06 am
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