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   Yesterday, at the Tejpal, I saw my second Hindi play... (February 13, 1986)

Yesterday, at the Tejpal, I saw my second Hindi play, Titali, with Sharon Prabhakar looking and acting like Goldie Hawn. The first Hindi play I saw was probably the first Hindi play directed by Alyque Padmasee. It was also at Tejpal and, I think, it was called Pagal Khana. It was set in a lunatic asylum and the actors would thorw things at the audience, jump off the stage and into the audience, etc.

I have seen all, or almost all or Mr. Padamsee’s English plays. They have been the highlights of my on-and-off career as a theatregoer. I have seen tow versions of Death Of A Salesman, the first, though minus the stagecraft of the later version, infinitely better.

And I saw Streetcar Named Desire, with Sabira Merchant making such a fragile and brittle Blanche Dubois. And I saw Vultures. Mr. Padmasee’s original experiment with, the Marathi theatre. In the background, on a screen vultures flew occasionally, scattering the heavy air. It was also one of the tow occasions that I discovered that Kabir Bedi could act.

The other time was in Tughlaq. That was all Kabir Bedi. In the opening scene, he stood stretched, his back to the audience, dressed only in a scarlet Ioin cloth, the skin glistening with sweat, like a muscular Jesus Christ at the crucifixion.

I saw Evita twice (three times, including the London version), admired what a good director could do with Sharon Prabhakar. And, on an earlier occasion, I saw Man From La Mancha, the play and the music will for ever remind me of Nirmala Mathan.

But, I think Alyque Padmasee’s best musical, best play greatest production was Superstar. The best acting and singing talent in town was assembled for it and Mr. Padmsee monitored and man inpulated them into an amazing impulated them into an amazing rock symphony. Christ and Satan, Madhukar Chandra Das and Nandu Bhende, white and black, face to face. Keith Stevenson as Herod, Gerson Da Cunha singing, the last supper, like a painting brought to life on the stage, exact in every detail, nailing Christ to the cross with plastic nails.

Perl Padamsee, around the same time, did Godspell, with another massive assembly of talent including Victor Bannerjee. It was charming, but a play in parables, it did not have the sweep of Superstar.

But the best play I have ever seen, at least the one which has had the greatest impact on me, has been by Pearl Padamsee, Bertolt Brecht’s Arturo Oui, Vijay Crishna played the main role, a mad, screaming Hitler.

But to come back to last nights Titali, throughout the performance I had the feeling that I was watching a television play and not seeing it in a theatre. A good television play, no doubt, on the national network, at prime time. Perhaps, they should put it on TV on a Sunday evening.

 
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