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July 31, 2016

Bapu And The Ballad: All You Need To Know About Gandhi – The Musical

Text by Huzan Tata. Images courtesy of National Centre for Performing Arts, Mumbai.

What do jazz, rock, 3-D mapping and dubstep have in common with the Mahatma? Find out in this unique upcoming performance…

Think non-violence and India’s greatest advocate of peace comes to mind. Mahatma Gandhi, fondly known as Bapu, was arguably one of the world’s greatest freedom fighters, and revered by many. Today, get the chance to relive the man’s journey – right from his days as a lawyer in South Africa to his fight for independence. A new play, produced by NCPA as an original production, in association with Mumbai-based Silly Point Productions recaps the life of the Father of our Nation in Gandhi – The Musical. The first of its kind on an Indian stage, the theatre show includes 16 original songs, 2 adaptations and 12 choreographed dances, along with lavish sets that’ll transport you to the days of our independence struggle.

Q&A with the director, Danesh R Khambata

Beginnings: “Silly Point Productions has been around for some time now, and we wanted to attempt something more challenging this time – to take a step forward. Yes, we are being adventurous, but it is a step in the right direction, not only for us but I hope for the entire theatre industry. Gandhi in a musical format, specially the one we are trying to execute, is unheard of. The reaction I get when I tell people about Bapu being portrayed in a musical is ‘Are you sure?’ – that means it’s obviously unique. There have been numerous plays and movies on him, but Gandhi as a topic is evergreen. I assure you, each day of his life can inspire a new musical.”

USP of the play: “Its treatment. We have music genres ranging from jazz and rock to dubstep and ballads. Bertwin Ravi D’souza and his choreography team have only enhanced the vision of this production. And Dawn Cordo, the vocal arranger, has blended in some wonderful melodies. We are also incorporating technology in the form of 3D-mapping by the talented duo Jash Reen and Joshua D’mello from Wolves Inc.”

Behind the scenes: “It was only when I started researching and writing the play that I understood the sheer depth and value of this man. Even though we are interpreting things in our own way, we’ve done extensive research by going through books, letters, anecdotes, documentaries and more, to make sure we stay as close to the facts as possible.”

Challenges: “It is challenge enough to produce a play, leave alone a musical. As a writer and director, bringing to the stage his whole life was quite a task. He lived a very simple life – that was the beauty of the man. So for the purpose of the musical, his simplicity was my complexity.”

Keeping Gandhi alive for the present generation: “He lived in a different era; the world has changed today. But, as Gandhi said ‘I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills’. The ideals which he lived by have been around much before his time and will continue much after. What made him such a great soul was his awareness of the power of these ideals and in his own words, his ‘experimentations’ with them. So, in a way, Gandhi’s ideals were, are, and always will be present.”

Favourite screen or stage adaptation of Bapu’s life:
“Sir Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.

Mahatma Gandhi is…“One word – Human.”

Check out the trailer of the play below:

Gandhi – the Musical will be staged at National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai from August 13-21, 2016.  

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