Into the shadows: Binder explores one of society's deepest secrets
Vijay Tendulkar, the late playwright and writer, was well known for plays like Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe (1967), Ghashiram Kotwal (1972), and Sakharam Binder (1972). This week, The Auroville Theatre Group has teamed up with another theatre group from the region, Avant-Gardners, to present an adaptation of Sakharam Binder, a controversial production that was performed in the year 1972, and was later banned for a couple of years due to its contentious premise — that of a man who lures destitute women and castaway wives of other men with food and shelter, only to use them for his own needs.
Rupam Mishra, director of the Auroville production, says that it is a great play by Vijay Tendulkar, “one that shows the mirror to a society whose reality is forbidden for the masses”. She explains, “Binder primarily deals with the dark side of the human psyche. It forces us to ask questions that we are otherwise afraid to ask. It is definitely not for the weak-hearted nor people who don’t believe in darkness. But unfortunately, darkness is nothing but the absence of light.” Ahead of its premiere, we speak to her about what inspired her to do the play and its relevance. Excerpts:
What was the inspiration for adapting Vijay’s play?
When I first read the script, I was completely stunned by the way every character was written. Each and every character has its own uniqueness and flavour which gave us actors more scope to experiment. Hence my group got its name! And that made me realise that darkness and violence can also be executed in an entertaining way. It is in and out an accord script, hence I took the decision to direct and act in this play. The story remains the same but the way we are telling it is different. You can say that we have interpreted the story in order to appeal to the current theatre audience.
Could you share a brief gist of the plot of your version? Have you introduced any changes into the original?
The story remains the same but the way we are telling it is different. You can say that we have interpreted the story in order to appeal to the current theatre audience.
According to you, how relevant is Binder in today’s scheme of things? How effective has the original play been in spreading awareness about its main subject?
Even though we have evolved as human beings, certain things remain the same. And I feel it would remain that way forever. As humans, we are a complex structure with so many layers and this play gave us access to unveil some of those layers beneath.
Take us through the set, and the kind of dialogues and music we will hear.
The dialogues remain the same as in the original but the motive might differ. A very famous Marathi song Mala jau de will be performed along with a dance sequence as a prelude, in order to set the atmosphere. Throughout the play, we will use some intense music scores to create maximum shock and impact. As for the set, it represents the era where the story might have taken place. We have a khatiya in the centre and a lantern in the kitchen in order to portray a rural backdrop.
Could you describe the costumes? Who is the designer?
Sari for the ladies and pyjama and kurta for the gents, as simple as that. My friend Susheela here in Auroville helped me with costumes and another friend Sarani a professional makeup artist will be assisting me to create the look of the actors.
And the cast?
Sakharam will be played by Nitish K Jha, an alumnus of Pondicherry University. The roles of Champa, Dawood, Shinde and Laxmi will be essayed by Swetha V, Umair Ahrar, Satyendra and me.
What's the target audience?
The target audience will be each and everyone who has a knack for theatre in and around Auroville and Pondicherry. But first-timers are welcome too.
Will we see the production in other cities soon?
Yes I have plans to take this production out specially Bangalore and Mumbai. I am currently working on the financial aspects of it and it will be announced soon.
At CRIPA, Auroville. January 25.
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