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Thursday, June 04, 2020

Revisiting an imaginary place

Like the inviting bell of the ice cream van,this soundtrack attracted all kids.

Written by Shruti Nambiar | Published: March 30, 2011 1:25:50 am

RK Narayan’s Malgudi will come alive on stage for the first time ever in the city

Like the inviting bell of the ice cream van,this soundtrack attracted all kids. Simple stories told in a town long ago,and some memorable characters became fond childhood memories. But before Doordarshan began to transmit images of an imaginary town located somewhere in the south of India,there were books. Full of tales of everyday people,young and old,rich and poor. It’s on these pages that R K Narayan had created his idea of India. On April 3,WeMove Theatre group from Bengaluru will enliven these fables in the city through their stage adaptation. Malgudi Daaze,carrying four of Narayan’s short stories,will entertain and provide a glimpse into the circumstances that revolved around the author while writing the books.

How do you imagine Malgudi? Do you think it’s real? This is how WeMove,the first in the country to adapt the stories into a play,starts every show. “And we get varied feedback,more connected to the book than the television show,” reveals Sriharsha Grama. Another member,the soft-spoken Abhishek Iyengar,was reponsible for the screenplay,lighting and direction. “We wanted to focus on the book and not the serial,though it was one of the best shows made by one of the best directors. We wanted to take the youth to the 1930s.” The play is thus decidedly true to its source. A common thread of suspense runs through the cohesive narration of The Astrologer’s Day,Eswaran,Out of Business and Fellow Feeling. The props on the stage never change; it’s all played out in one extended show lasting one hour and 10 minutes. The drama was staged eight times in Bengaluru,and once in Mysore and Chennai. “And everywhere,Fellow Feeling was the most enjoyed. It was a laugh riot,” says Grama.

An improvisation that will surprise the audience is a fresh take on the legendary title tune of the show. Vasu Dixit,from the folk/fusion band Swarathma,helped create the new theme song. “With the stories,we kept the experimentation low,” says Rangaraj Bhatacharya. The curious twist to the title also comes from an earnest place. “We were so bedazzled,so overwhelmed during the process,that we had started seeing Malgudi everywhere,” laughs Grama.

The group started in Bengaluru as a motley bunch of Orkut acquaintances with theatrical ambitions. Doctors,engineers,financial consultants,et al,now populate the membership of about 100. “We want to bring out more accessible,simple plays. We want people to enjoy plays just as much as they enjoy movies,” says Nagashree Muralidhar,who worked on the costume design. Thanks to Taarago.com,they are now in the city.

(The play will be showcased on Sunday,April 3,at Nehru Memorial Hall,at 4 pm and 6 pm.)

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