Romeo, Juliet and Seven Clowns | Manohar Khushalani

image_pdfimage_print

Romeo Juliet & Seven Clowns
Colourful Costumes Lively Production

A Review by Manohar Khushalani
Published Earlier in IIC Diary May-June 2013

The only thing this play had in common with Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is the story line on which the spoof is based. Thankfully, the names of characters had been kept the same as those in the classic, otherwise one would have been at a loss on how to relate to the title of the play. The story has been given the look and feel of a folk lore in the tradition of romantic tales, such as those about; Umar-Marvi, Reshma-Shera, Sasi Punoh and what have you. Purple Mangoes is essentially part of, CEVA, a street theatre group, and it was therefore far more challenging for them to put up such an abstract, but artistic, rendition of the theme. Yet, they managed to pull it off as a stand alone theatre piece, but, it was definitely not Shakespeare. Which is why, one came across such divergent reactions from the audience. Not withstanding, everyone danced with the performers at the end.

The director of the play was Sukhmani Kohli, a woman, yet there were no women in the play. Even Juliet was performed by a male actor, who however, never made us feel the absence of a female cast. The choice of Bulleh Shah’s Sufi poetry would ordinarily have been considered bizarre, yet again, it was some how carried off, perhaps, because the group, which performs largely in rural Punjab, preferred drawing from its own roots.

Experimentation had been unleashed with aplomb in this play. The biggest. being the usage of clowns as tragic figures. According to Kohli, the play is an attempt to go beyond the traditional idea of the red nosed clown who makes people laugh, and see it as an essential part of a human soul that is naïve, warm, accessible, eager for life and ‘ready for anything’. There was jugglery, a live orchestra and choreographed blocking. So much fluidity and coordination of movements with music, would not have been possible without intense improvisational routines. It seems that the actors went through a month long workshop that helped them discover how to portray their ‘own inner clown’

IIC Diary May-June 2013
Avatar

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is Currently a Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he teaches are: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: www.onevorld.org and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: www.stagebuzz.in & www.stagebuzz.info He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He is an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

You may also like...

1 Response

  1. Avatar Archana H Colquhoun says:

    Great review. It makes you want to have watched the play.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *