The future is here

Ambika Shaligram
Friday, 24 May 2019

A musical play, J4U tackles the subject of what it is like to be a human being in a cyber world

The future is here. And, what is it like? More digitisation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), no verbal speech? What is it to be a human being in a cyber world? Taking this as their cue, a bunch of youngsters of Theatron group, worked on the award-winning play, J4U. 

“We performed the play in various competitions like Cy-Fi Karandak and then we also had a show in Pune Natya Sattak. We got good feedback and so we decided to open it commercially and the first show is this evening at Bharat Natya Mandir,” says Atharva Soundankar, who has directed the play with Sanket Parkhe.

It was Omkar Gokhale, who thought up the germ of the story. And, the artists and crew brain-stormed, discussed and worked out the details. “It started with one small thing and then we talked, discussed. It helped that we were planning to take part in the Cy-Fi Karandak and so we worked towards it with a single-minded purpose. In about 20 days, we had the play ready,” adds Parkhe.

Parkhe, who has also designed lights for J4U, was glad to sink his teeth into creating something futuristic, something that could come true. “Our set is minimalistic. We have a bunch of passengers in a car — the lead, so to say, is modelled on someone from our generation, who will be in his 50s, during the play. Another is a 18-year-old who is a game addict. We had lot of fun designing the games, another is a young man and a woman, who are working professionals. They are travelling in a car and that’s where the interactions, interplay between them occurs. The characters sport gadgets as a part of their look. We have designed chips that are shown to be embedded in their body. We also worked on light colours, angles, intensity and harshness,” says Parkhe, who is a graduate in Animation and VFX from Fergusson College. 

With live music choir on stage, belting out EDM and Jazz pieces, J4U has won accolades for representing today’s youth, their world.

“Technology can be good or bad, it depends on the user. What is true is that we can’t do away with gadgets completely,” he says. When asked how dependent the duo are on their mobile phones, the two say, “In the course of directing this play, we had to rely on the instrument. We used to update the members on timings, rehearsals and so on. In case the instructions were not sent on WhatsApp or message, some people failed to show up for the rehearsals. They forgot they were asked to report at a certain time,” adds Parkhe.

Soundankar, who has appeared for his BA exams this year, talks about the reference material that they sourced. “We watched YouTube videos on AI and VR to gather material. We also watched Black Mirror a series on Netflix. All of this helped us in getting the right material,” says Soundankar. 

ST Reader Service
Catch J4U at this evening at Bharat Natya Mandir, 9 pm. It’s a ticketed show.

​ ​

Related News