Building Perpesctives

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 4 October 2019

DIRECTOR’S CUT
“The concept of the play, Daavikadun Chauthi Building, demanded four writers. One writer could have easily written four stories, but his/her style would have been similar. I didn’t want that, so I got on board, four writers penning four different story, but making it a seamless tale of one building. After our first performance and the resultant feedback, we have plugged loopholes. We have got a firm focus on ‘simultaneously’ unfolding stories. — Suraj Parasnis

Theatron Entertainment and Theatre Academy’s production Daavikadun Chauthi Building is holding two shows on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s more about the Marathi play

Power failures can be enlightening (pun intended). A sudden spell of darkness in a Mumbai high rise shifts the dynamics of the residents. With this as a common theme, four tales unravel simultaneously in Suraj Parasnis directed Daavikadun Chauthi Building. 

The Theatron and Theatre Academy production, which made its debut at Saarang Theatre Festival in February, will now have two shows a day on two consecutive days (October 5-6). 

The four stories written by Omkar Gokhale, Abhiram Joshi, Manaswini Lata Ravindra and Virajas Kulkarni are a window to the world we live in. It also happens to be the social milieu that the writers are closely acquainted with. Here’s more from the writers... 

RAKING UP UNDERCURRENTS
The Indian family system is revered as well as reviled in equal measure. The elders have made their peace with it while the youngsters would rather hang out with friends. At least there is no hypocrisy involved in relations that you have forged out on your own, unlike the ones that are thrust on you, just because you were born in the same gene pool. 

“I always questioned the interaction of adults even in my family. They would be cordial, sweet even, with their brothers, sisters, cousins, far-off relatives, when they came face to face. But once the aunt or cousin in question was away, others would mock, crib and gossip about them. I couldn’t understand this fake behaviour. I wondered why they didn’t just say what they really thought of that cousin or aunt. So I wrote this story of a family get-together which begins on a happy note and then with power outage, everything freezes and true feelings surface,” says Gokhale. 

The writer, who played the role of a youngster in the play during Saarang Theatre Festival, says, “When I was naive and inexperienced in the ways of the world, I thought of getting my family to the table and make them air their dirty linen. I never did that. Over the years, I have experienced a lot more about how families function and why adults act the way they do. In this story, I allow that restless youngster to take charge.”

Gokhale has been replaced by Atharva Soundankar in the story to be staged this weekend because he has some other commitments. “As a writer, I was very clear about how the story would unfold. I knew it in and out and it was exciting to be a part of the process and also on the stage,” says Gokhale, who calls himself “primarily an actor.” 

THAT FEELING OF BELONGING
Relocation, travelling, setting up a new house in a different city or changing residences every one or two years is something that the millenials take in their stride. Even then, they can’t help chasing that feeling of belonging to a city or a place.

Manaswini Lata Ravindra, who has written plays like Amar Photo Studio and TV series like Dil Dosti Duniyadari, has penned this tale of two women sharing a flat in Mumbai. She says “I have lived in Mumbai before my marriage and then relocated to Pune. But like other young people I knew, I never had to change my residence frequently. I kept meeting these friends, some who came from towns, cities to Mumbai. They would never completely feel at home here nor would they feel comfortable back home after staying in a big city. They would share their flat with a group of friends, then someone would get married, a new person would come in, or someone would move out. One flat sees so many occupants and is a witness to their stories. I wrote this story of two working women, in their mid-20s, packing up as they have to move out the next day.”

When asked if she being a female, she chose to write on two women, Manaswini replies, “I have written many stories with a male as the central figure. As a writer, I have to be conversant with both male and female perspectives. Maybe as a woman, I can put the stories of women more differently, that’s it.” 

VIRTUAL REALITY
Anyone with a smartphone and lot more street smartness can become a celeb. All you have to do is to put your best face forward. It might seem real (it’s meant to be) to all those subscribers following a popular YouTuber or a vlogger. But here’s the deal — it’s all managed, manipulated. 

Abhiram Joshi, who has written the story of a vlogger living alone in a rented flat, says, “I was quite intrigued by this world, of people who put out the minute details of their lives. I was following a few vlogs, and I soon realised that most of these vloggers are around for two-three years and then they vanish. How much of your lives can you manipulate for the camera? I mean, when you wake up, you aren’t certainly looking your best. But these guys are.” 

The vlogger in the play talking of his struggles to the camera and his bid to land an acting role. But in reality he stays put in the flat. “He has a background story as well, but that’s to be experienced as an audience on the stage,” says Joshi, who is dabbling in new media as a creative producer. 

‘WE DON’T DO SERIOUS’
Many of Virajas Kulkarni’s artist friends land up at Samna Parivar Housing Society in Mumbai in their pursuit to bag role in film and television industry. In his frequent trips, he couldn’t help notice their interpersonal relations, dates, hook-ups. 

“My story is about this couple who has been in relationships before. Usually, in such scenarios, there is no love at first sight. You chat, become friends, then you date and then perhaps you might think of marriage. This couple has known each other for seven months or so. They find each other cute, but then the pregnancy factor looms up and things go for a toss. The girl wonders, ‘Hey! Is he going to bring up my child?’ The boy wonders, ‘Does this mean we are going to stay together our entire life’?,” says Kulkarni.

The story is more to do with responsibility that being a parent and marriage brings. And, both the boy and girl are not sure about, because for them casual has always been the case. 

Kulkarni, who naturally gravitates towards writing thrillers, Anathema being a case in point, says, “After I wrote the story, my friends and many people my age came up to tell me, ‘This is exactly what we feel’. We are always battling this nurture vs nature conflict. You are raised in a family atmosphere where certain things are not condoned. And, then there is the nature, your surroundings. In this story, the girl and the boy have opposing viewpoints and they have convincing arguments about what to do next. We find it difficult to make a choice.”

ST READER SERVICE
The two shows of Daavikadun Chauthi Building on each day (Saturday-Sunday) would be held at 5 and 9 pm, with a music show interlude. The plays would be staged at Sakal Lalit Kalaghar, Mukund Nagar. Tickets are available at the venue and can also be booked at www.ticketee.com

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