For reasons beyond my understanding, there is a severe lack of good theatre in Delhi. In case you didn’t know – Delhi is home to the National School of Drama (NSD), the premier institute for dramatics in the country.
Bombay and Calcutta (or whatever they are calling them these days) have a strong theatre scene despite the competition from equally great regional cinema. Good Hindi movies are rare (unless you go back to the 70’s) and good Hindi theatre even more so. There is also a dearth of original playwriting in Hindi (and maybe the audience or lack of, is to blame) and most of the plays that I have seen have been translations from other regional languages or, more commonly, from English.
As a teenager I regularly got to watch plays, both in Hindi and English, produced by the dramatics society of the students of IITD. Some of them were directed by the noted theatre personality Faizal Alkazi; everything from the music to the set design and performances, was very professional. That is where my love for theatre began.
At around 17 years of age, I found myself a wonderful book at the library – An Introduction to Drama – that started with Sophocle’s Antigone in the ‘Tragedies’ section. I read original Shakespeare (Romeo and Juliet!) for the first time and understood what the hulabaloo was all about; Henrik Ibsen’s famous A Doll’s House and wondered about Nora; Moliere’s farce, The School for Wives, had me smiling; Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was beyond my years (that’s my excuse anyway).
In those days even Doordarshan used to broadcast occasional plays – two that have stayed in my memory are Ashad Ka Ek Din (One Monsoon Day), and Adhe Adhure (The Fragmented), both written by Mohan Rakesh. Students and alumni of NSD made up the cast of these memorable plays; if I remember correctly (it was a good twenty years ago!), it was Surekha Sikri and Manohar Singh who were in the lead roles in Adhe Adhure.
Here’s the good news. Next month Dramatech, the 25 year old amateur theatre group of students and alumni of IITD, is presenting a Hindi translation of the old classic, Fiddler on the Roof. I am looking forward to getting the winter theatre season off to a good start. I am taking my son along (he’s not keen after hearing it is a musical) – about time he saw some good theatre.
Fiddler on the Roof is set in 1910 Ukraine, in a Jewish village. Dramatech’s production has Hindi lyrics set to the original music by Jerry Bock. The translation (including the lyrics) and direction are by Ravi Raj Sagar.
To book tickets e-mail dramatech[at]rediffmail[dot]com. There are arrangements for e-ticket delivery, or you may arrange to pick up your tickets at a convenient place near you. See you there!
Fiddler on the Roof (in Hindi)
Venue: Sri Ram Center, Mandi House
Show Dates: Dec 8, 9, 15, and 16
Show Time: 6:45 pm
(Images courtesy Dramatech)