Some movies make history. Mughal-e-Azam (1960) is , directed by K Asif, is one of them. Now a stage musical at the NCPA produced by Shapoorji Pallonji



cast of Mughal-E-Azam

Some movies make history. Mughal-e-Azam (1960), directed by K Asif, is one of them. The movie is a veritable musical in its own right with memorable music by the great music director Naushad Ali. Everything about the movie was about scale – from its team to its production and design. Now a stage musical of the mega film, directed by Feroz Abbas Khan is making news, and for the right reasons. It’s a brilliant stroke to re-imagine it on stage, but it also requires a certain tenacity and astuteness to dare it.
This co-production by Shapoorji Pallonji (who hold the rights to the film) and by the National Centre of the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai is a spectacle first and foremost. It is likely to leave you dazzled at every shift in scene. The design is simply splendid but what is more commendable about it is its careful art research thus augmenting the aesthetics of the Mughal period. Scene-shifting scenery is in the old tradition of Parsi Urdu theatre, and the ‘Sangeet Natak’, but the technology, which is now available, is sophisticated with the added bonus of digital technology. The production therefore is as smooth as butter and flawless. It is no doubt credit to the director for ensuring thus. The high degree of professionalism is clearly important for productions of this magnitude.

The abiding need for accuracy and detail permeates all levels and is an absolute bonus for the overwhelming scenery, light design and choreography – the bulwarks of this stunning enterprise. The set design has been cleverly managed as well; its filigreed facade remains constant with all the changes happening behind, thus creating a great illusion of different spaces within the fort and the palace.

Spectacle however rarely translates into theatre. The actors use microphones – an immediate giveaway and while the director has with purpose kept away from grand gesture and declamation (thankfully), most of the performances tend to be one-dimensional and monochromatic. Underplay may diminish the effects of possible overplay but can be curtailing and charmless. The actors are all very ‘proper’ even in their most sentimental moments. The decision appears deliberate, and is not without its merits in a landscape where it’s easy to be theatrical, especially in a love story that has been immortalized in film. It is also with the same purpose perhaps why only the choreographer Mayuri Upadhyay and costume designer Manish Malhotra’s names find greater prominence in the publicity along with the director’s. The actors have presence and flair but they are minisculed by the imposing backdrop. The dancers stand out as desired with their superb dancing.

These are choices, and it is clear that the makers of this production know what they want – to amaze and to overawe. They do that with elan, especially in instances like the legendary ‘Sheesh Mahal’ setting with its famous, provocative song Pyar Kiya Toh Darna Kya. All the singing is live.


Code Mantra the plot revolves around a death of a juniour army officer, the elder brother is held responsible for the murder.Thus unfolds a courtroom drama.

Code Mantra

cast of Code Mantra

General George S Patton who commanded the US army during World War II was known to have said, ”Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” The General’s feelings, if not his exact words, are echoed by Colonel Indravadhan Rajput in Sneha Desai’s Code Mantra, directed by Rajesh Joshi. The play is proving to be a big success with housefull shows. Its producer Bharat Thakkar is smiling. He is known to promote meaningful content vis-a-vis the stereotypical and more predictable play on the Gujarati stage. The play’s Marathi version is due to premiere soon.

Pratap Sachdev who plays the arrogant Colonel is bombastic and perhaps deliberately over the top in a production, which while purporting to be more intelligent than its peers, is still meant to toe the line of mainstream Gujarati theatre. So it goes for the others in the main cast too- all competent actors – who must live up to an enterprise that in spite of the gravitas of its subject, must resemble and sound like a soap opera. But for all its decibel shattering sound, its kitsch theme song, and tele-serial music, this is a nifty production that must be commended for its efficient delivery, its attention to the military detailing of costume and custom, and its ability to place justice above the military.

The play’s military ensemble, largely comprising actors from Bhavans, makes the intervening scenes dramatic and transitions smooth without any blackouts. The audience is struck by the precision and clap approvingly. The story has been derived from a well-known Hollywood film, which began life as a Broadway play. The team to its credit acknowledges the film. Sneha Desai, who also acts in the play as the defense lawyer, has cleverly inserted emotionalised bits in her adaptation that predictably tug at the heart of her audience.

The plot revolves around the death of a junior army officer. His elder brother, who serves in the same regiment, is held responsible for his murder. Their mother does not accept the army’s version of the story even though her elder son’s best chance is to plead guilty. Thus unfolds a courtroom drama in which the excesses of the army, in this case, its internal disciplinary actions, are called in question. ‘Code Mantra’ is the unspoken, legally unacknowledged term given to such actions – often excessive and horrendous – in the context of the play. The defense lawyer from her own experience is more than familiar with it.

Relationships in the army are always first and foremost determined by discipline and guided by duty, which extends to duty to the senior commanding officer, by which all his commands must be followed. Trust is implicit. But what happens when the senior officer misuses his position, however sound he may make his theory in the larger interest of the army and the nation? It is this grey zone that the play seeks to tackle, albeit with generous doses of melodrama and jingoism.

The ‘nationalistic’ fervour, complete with asking the audience to stand up to the loud, orchestrated recording of the national anthem before the play starts and making the curtain call with ”Jai Hind” and then adding ”Bharat Mata Ki Jai”, is however curious for a play that seeks to present a scathing critique of the Indian army’s top brass in the overstepping of its authority. On the contrary, these calls sadly reinforce the present-day government’s dubious narrative on patriotism and nationalism and seem to defeat the brave dismantling of the status quo, which its makers want to highlight.


Raat Na Aaye

Raat Na Aaye is a story of a family,devastated by its own memories and past.When confrontations happen a feeling of bitterness surrounds the family.

Raat Na Aaye


cast of Raat Na Aaye     

Raat Na Aaye is a famous playwright  in Eugine O’Neil’s autobiographical play LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT was a masterpiece and a runaway success in 1956. It was produced posthumously. Its Hindi adaptation by Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub made a debut at NCPA’s Centrestage festival this year. This realistic and scathing story of a family trying to cover up its scars, wounds, and tragedy makes for compulsive viewing.

Yashpal Singh Sahney (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub), an ageing theatre superstar, is now facing faded glory. But his vanity and narcissism are still intact. His wife Bala (Rasika Agashe) is a seemingly charming homemaker celebrating her son’s birthday and is trying to bring her crumbling family together valiantly. However soon it is revealed that Bala is just posing hard to put on a rosy picture of a blissful domestic scene. She is just back from rehabilitation for drug addiction. Owing to loneliness and depression, she has became a morphine addict. The eldest son, Raj (Aseem Hattangadi) is a struggling TV serial actor, an alcoholic and a wastrel who visits brothels just to humiliate his illustrious father who had introduced him to acting. If that were not enough, the youngest son, Aayush (Tushar Pandey) is suffering from cancer.

The bold confrontations, the duplicity of relationships torn between love and rage, an all-pervading sourness set off an introspective mode in the audience. Human fallibility and our desperate redemptive attempts are conveyed powerfully through the play. Flowing effortlessly, this very real family tragedy is staged with great sincerity. The director, Rasika Agashe, who also doubles up as the listless and concerned mother captures the essence of the plot effectively. The set of a derelict house with a courtyard strewn with dry leaves brings out the pathos of the situation. The boxes double as seats and storage for the several props used during the play. It is of great convenience in instances where Raj fishes out a whiskey bottle, takes a swig, refills it with water and replaces it in the box to fool his father. This is a well-adapted play with an interesting set comprising ramps and inclined planes serving as metaphors in the story. The cast of Raat Na Aaye is spontaneously into the act – Rasika as the listless drug addict and Aseem Hattangadi as the vindictive, embittered son are realistic. Raat Na Aaye is a  play that makes an impact – a deep one!

The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues play is, an unusual blend of outrageous comedy and heart-breaking drama, tells stories of women like you have never even heard before.

The Vagina Monologues

cast of The Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues Directed by:Kaizad Kotwal & Mahabanoo  Mody-Kotwal Duration:80 minutes Cast:Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal, Sonali  Sachdev, Avantika Akerkar, Dolly Thakore & Jayati.

Based on the award winning play The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler . Her award winning play was written after Interviewing 200 women from all over the world, including Bosnia and Kosovo .The play brings about an awareness of buse towards women. The message is clear , silence = death !

The Vagina Monologues has been translated in 22 languages, it’s a compilation of various monologues of  women .  This powerful play – an unusual blend of outrageous comedy and  heart-breaking drama – tells the stories of women like you have never  heard before. People keep coming back to see this play because each time  the play and the performances reveal something new. But if you are looking for a sex comedy, one filled with double meanings and sexual jokes,then you’re going to be disappointed. Don’t get fooled by the title.I have seen this play thrice with different group of friends and we all loved it.

India is still a predominantly conservative country where kissing is rarely seen in films and sex is barely talked about. But, for the past 10 years, the Indian version of the  worldwide play, The Vagina Monologues, has been trying to challenge some  of those taboos. It’s  collection of most intimate and  heart-rending experiences on  issues like love, rape, female genital  mutilation, masturbation, birth  and orgasms.No one , man or woman , will ever be the same again after viewing the vagina monologues.

The Vagina Monologues, is a play that should seen by everyone. Its beauty and strength lies in the fact, that the women whose stories these are belong to the indomitable group of people we call survivors. We see the vagina as embodying the spirit of woman, the essence of womankind. And it is that very essence, that very spirit that is assaulted, brutalized, and rarely celebrated each and every day, in just about every corner of the globe.

Don’t forget to catch The Vagina Monologues from the 24th March – 21st May at the Canvas Laugh Club.


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Hamlet, The Clown Prince

Hamlet, The Clown Prince has a bunch of clowns decide to put up a show of HAMLET. They interpret the text to their convenience, sabotage the play purpously .

Hamlet The Clown Prince

cast of Hamlet and the Clown Prince

If you aren’t a fervent lover of Shakespearean drama, especially his poetically tragic plays, you won’t mind a comical adaptation  like Hamlet, The Clown Prince based on one of his most popular tragedy, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. After all, would you give up the opportunity to watch a historically tragic play enacted by a bunch of clowns, the very harbingers of laughter and humour?

But is it even possible to explore themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption that Shakespeare so painstakingly groomed in Hamlet, through clowns? Apparently yes. If you have enjoyed C For Clown, the first play in Rajat Kapoor’s clown franchise, which basked in the glory of its decade long run, you’d surely not want to miss out of Hamlet, The Clown Prince, the second play. (The third being Nothing Like Lear).

When the play opens, a clown delivers a monologue in gibberish — a language that sounds like an undecipherable, yet curious mix of English, Italian and French. It doesn’t change much throughout the play and in the end, you may even wonder, why the play wasn’t in English in the first place. It would save the audience’s efforts of straining their ears and perhaps, it wouldn’t have be any less hilarious.
Hamlet, The Clown Prince isn’t just a parody of the original Hamlet – it’s also a digression into the lives of the clown characters. In this version, they misinterpret the original script, take things out of sub-context and derive to their own silly conclusions — making a chaotic but fun clutter on stage.
In spite of taking shortcuts and liberties with the original story, The Clown Prince is an entertaining fare because it provides a refreshingly creative outlook on Shakespearean tragedy. It has its moments. Whether it’s the Soso-Buzo snide break-up bickering, Polonius’s hilarious mask-tape gagging or Fido’s uproarious dumb charades, you have enough to keep you giggling!

Cast : Atul Kumar, Neil Bhoopalam, Puja Sarup, Namit Das, Kalki Koechlin & Sujay Saple.


Class of 84

Class Of 84 shows the bonds of friendship.The story is about 7 friends who reunite on the death of the eighth friend . Watch out the emotions that flow out.

Class Of  84

Cast of Class of 84

Is a roller coaster ride about friendship, filled with pathos and mad humor. Taking Place in October 2002, The Class of 84 play  is set in the Kashid Beach home of Raveena and Sanjay Mehra, over one long and emotional evening. Seven friends, who were a tightly knit group, in St. Xavier’s College, from 1979 To 1984, have gathered in Bombay, because of the death of an eighth, Jojo. Jojo was the leader of the group. This was a group that hung around the Xavier’s Canteen, discussing how to change the world, over endless cups of chai. The friends have been invited to the Mehra home for dinner after the funeral. Apart From bored housewife, Ravenna and her workaholic Banker husband, Sanjay, there is Raghu, an angry, out Of work filmmaker, Bobby, a TV serial actor, Cyrus, a Rich hippie, Fuzzy, paranoid about her biological Clock and obsessed with Feng Shui, and Sarah, a bitchy Gossip columnist.

These seven haven’t actually met as a group in seventeen years. Even individually the meetings have been sporadic. But the affection hasn’t died. Class Of 84 starts off innocently enough, as Raveena, the plays protagonist, introduces the audience briefly to each one of them. The first half of Class Of 84  is gentle banter, and affectionate nostalgia. But lurking below the surface are old conflicts, unresolved issues, unconsummated romances and unhealed scars. As the evening wears on, the layers begin to gradually start peeling away. We realize that each person has been affected by Jojo in various ways. Also each person has some part of their personality, which they choose to hide. Can the seven Friends renew old ties? Can they accept each other’s personality flaws? But most of all will old skeletons fall unwittingly out of the cupboard? All this is revealed as the seven friends seek to find out the real cause of their friend’s death, which they realize isn’t as clear-cut as it first seemed.


Gandhi The Musical

Gandhi The Musical is a mindless tableau of song and dance.It’s been produced by NCPA which has lavished money on elaborate sets, costumes and choreography.

Gandhi The Musical

Cast of Gandhi The Musical

Danesh Khambata’s extravaganza Gandhi The Musical is the kind of drama Akshay Kumar will give a ten-minute standing ovation. The play is designed to appeal to the uncritical patriotic impulse, which gets stirred when the national anthem is sung but is quiescent when votes are cast for people with reputations stained with human rights violations. When the Indian flag is shown on stage, Chirag Vohra, playing Gandhi, sings the national anthem in a quivering, old man’s voice. During the last show of the play’s opening run, the entire audience rose to sing along.

Gandhi The Musical  is a mindless tableau of song and dance that’s nearly three hours long. It’s been produced by the National Centre for the Performing Arts, which has lavished money on elaborate sets, costumes and choreography but paid little heed to the story. Now the life of Gandhi has been told many times in many ways in cinema, theatre and literature. Yet the material on him and by him is vast and rich. Judging by the number of books published on Gandhi every year, it’s clear a lot of the literature is yet to be mined. Instead of viewing Gandhi afresh or examining underexplored facets of his life, Khambata strikes an exhausted seam, providing a tired laundry list of biographical milestones: the awakening of his social conscience in South Africa; his return to India; giving lower caste folk the name ‘harijan’; the Jallianwala Bagh massacre; Chauri Chaura; the round table conference in London; the Quit India movement; the Dandi march; his troubled relationship with his son Harilal, Independence and, finally, his assassination.

The only novel element is that Khambata has attempted a showy Broadway-style musical. Composers Rahul Pais and Nariman Khambata, the director’s brother, have produced the ringing score. The lyrics, which he wrote himself, are mostly puerile. Though well-choreographed, Bertwin D’souza’s contemporary dance pieces are completely at odds with the narrative and do nothing to further the story.  Colonial cruelty in South Africa is also an excuse for a simulacrum of a Zulu dance. A courtroom scene in which a Zulu man (Rohit Tiwari) is indicted for not paying taxes turns into an absurd pageant – the lawyers shed their robes and wigs for red and black outfits, the prosecutor (Harssh A. Singh) puts on a jester’s suit, the judge (Francois Castellino) a shimmering tailcoat and top hat. They dance around the young Gandhi (Abhishek Krishnan), fuming at the injustice he has witnessed in court.

In Gandhi The Musical even the  non-musical parts are loud. Words are spoken at a high-pitched register. Nehru (Darius Shroff), Jinnah (Vivek Tandon) and Maulana Azad (Uday Chandra) don’t talk, they shout. The exception is Chirag Vohra, who does an able job of portraying Gandhi in his older years and deserves to be cast as the man in a more thoughtful, challenging production. Boman Irani provides the insulting, angry voice of the Raj, sounding more like an evil sorcerer from a children’s movie than the voice of the empire. Whenever his voiceover is played, the British flag superimposed with a sinister face is projected on to stage. Khambata has been staging plays for a decade. Yet it’s often hard to believe that Gandhi  is the work of an adult mind.