Chetan Datar's acclaimed play, 1 Madhav Baug, returns to Bengaluru this weekend
How many times have we ignored and dismissed crank calls? But in the play, 1 Madhav Baug, it’s a crank call that sets up the premise of the story. It’s just one call that turns the life of the protagonist upside down when she is told by an unknown voice on the other end of the phone line th at her son is a homosexual. Written originally in Marathi by the renowned playwright, the late Chetan Datar, during the early 2000s, Ek Madhav Baug was translated into English by Shanta Gokhale and performed in Bengaluru in 2007 at Ranga Shankara as part of its annual theatre festival.
This weekend, the play returns to the venue. Directed by Mariam Jetpurwala, it features actress Revathy who is known for her films such as Anjali, Love, Thevar Magan and 2 States. The narrative revolves around a middle-aged woman living at 1 Madhav Baug in Mumbai. She is at home one day when she receives a crank call that disturbs her peace when the caller reveals her son’s secret. This leads to the woman going through her son’s personal diary in which he has poured his heart out. “When I read the play, the first thought was that it must be staged. This was back in 2007, when Arundhati (Nag) had asked me to direct it,” recalls Mariam Jetpurwala, the director, adding, “Homosexuality was a subject that was never discussed and was always brushed under the carpet. This play was not just about the subject but it was written from the perspective of a mother who is speaking about it. It directly addresses a parent, and explores the inner trauma and struggles of dealing with it. It has several layers to it.”
The playwright, Chetan, had written the script way before people in India even came to terms with homosexuality. Mariam, who is a television director was roped in to direct a stage play for the first time, and she says she wanted to restructure it slightly as per her vision and Chetan was quite accomodating. “He was a very open-minded and generous playwright. He allowed me to restructure the play and I was glad that both him and Girish (Karnad) were present for the premiere. At the end of the performance, it was rewarding to receive their feedback,” recalls the director. Just like Mariam, it was actress Revathy’s debut on stage, and this weekend, she reprises her role. The director reminisces that Revathy had directed Phir Milenge, a film that sensitively dealt with the subject of AIDS, and 1 Madhav Baug happened at the right time for the actress’ stage debut. “She readily accepted the role and sensitively portrayed it. Since then, she has been performing all over India. In a way, this play has contributed to the dialogue about homosexuality in Indian society, and I hope it continues to be performed,” signs off Mariam.
Rs 500. April 3-4, 7.30 pm. At Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar