Do you like open-endings on the stage?

Do you like open-endings on the stage?

Manav Kaul's Hindi scripts are the flavour of Dubai's theatre season



By Purva Grover

Published: Fri 30 Aug 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 7 Sep 2019, 9:16 AM

It was a couple of months ago when, for the first time, I heard the name Manav Kaul doing the rounds in the city. He's an actor, someone mentioned. "Did you watch Tumhari Sulu, he played Balan's (Vidya) husband in the 2018 release?" The bells rang for a few. After all, Bollywood has the strongest recall value in the arts and beyond. Sadly, many didn't know of Mary Kom until 2014, when Priyanka Chopra Jonas played the part. However, to our relief, for a change, Bollywood soon took a backseat in this situation. As the conversation in theatre circles flowed, Kaul's brilliance as a renowned theatre director and playwright came to the forefront.
This evening, Kaul's scripted Chuhal - A Playful Banter will be staged by the local group, Dawn Theatre Productions. Chuhal is the story of two strangers, who fall in love despite their contrasting personalities and ideas of a happy ending. The director, Huda Bhaldar, shares that the play is, at times, abstract and other times real. Not a surprise when it comes to Kaul's writings, one may say. Hit rewind and you'd recall Kaul's script Park, a simple story with complex emotions and situations. Park is being performed many times of late, as part of media personality Gaggan Mudgal's concept of Home Theatre, which takes productions to the doorsteps of the audience. Under Mudgal's direction, it reached various spots, including the Khaleej Times premises in April and, each time, the play left people thinking. Was Park the first of Kaul's in Dubai's landscape? I'll need to find that out.
Whilst I am excited to watch Chuhal - one play, two versions - especially because it features one of my favourite actors, Lavina Jaswani, alongside other great performers Saif Khan, Sadia Pathan and Saleem Surani, I am at the same time intrigued by Kaul's open-ended stories. You are left to draw your conclusion from what is presented to you. As an audience, it ensures that the stories stay with us longer - discussions don't end when the curtains close. As a writer, it leaves me restless.
"A city that is always on the hunt for good Hindi scripts seems to have found a treasure," someone observed recently. The last full-length Hindi play staged in Dubai that I can recall was in 2016; Sharad Joshi's Andhon Ka Haathi was directed by Rashmi Kotriwala, a keen Hindi-theatre enthusiast and co-founder of The Junction, a performing arts space in the city. The play was appreciated but never saw a re-run. "Hindi scripts are impossible to find online as well," is another common lament.
It's a good sign to watch Kaul emerge as the flavour of Dubai's theatre season, I'd say. And for those who are obsessed with mainstream, my recommendation to catch up on Kaul's work on Netflix. Devour Ghoul (if you still haven't), a telly series, where he plays Colonel Sunil Dacunha, and follow it up with Music Teacher, where he plays a dejected small-town music teacher. Until then, I'll figure out which of the two versions of Chuhal I like more.

At: The Junction, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
On: Today, 4.30 pm, 7.30 pm
For: Dh60/ticket, available at the counter & on ae.bookmyshow.com
Ages: 12 and above
purva@khaleejtimes.com


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