The cast and crew behind the latest theatrical adaptation of the classic discuss what it takes to imaginatively retell one of India’s best-known tragedies.
Giant glass chandeliers swing from the ceiling, interspersed with harnesses bearing pirouetting aerial artistes. An LED backdrop lights up to reveal a formidable period haveli, framed in what appears to be bright pink sakura boughs. On stage, a group of costumed dancers nimbly manoeuvres two oversized dhols, which we are later told, will be used as props for an elaborate song-and-dance sequence. If we didn’t know better, we’d be forgiven for believing that we had accidently walked into the set of an upcoming Bollywood fantasy-drama film and not a theatrical adaptation of Bengali playwright Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s much-beloved magnum opus, Devdas. Mention this to the producer, Ashwin Gidwani, and he grins in response.
“With this production, we hope to present Devdas to the audience in all its glory and grandeur. The play is a 150-minute visual and musical extravaganza that will take viewers back in time, to the Calcutta of the 1900s, complete with opulent havelis and the gas-lit streets,” he says, pointing to a life-sized steam engine, which is parked quite nonchalantly besides the rows of cars outside the theatre. These elaborate sets will serve as a backdrop for the star cast, including Gaurav Chopra, Manjari Fadnis, Sunil Palwal, Sukhada Khandkekar and Bhavna Pani. Film buffs will recognise Smita Jayakar from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2002 film, as she reprises the role of Kaushalya, Devdas’s mother.
Read the complete article at Mumbai Mirror.
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