Atul Kumar’s new musical comedy Aaeen opens in Bengaluru today
A performance based on the making and impact of the Indian Constitution, ‘Aaeen’ is created in collaboration with Centre for Law and Policy Research; premiering at Ranga Shankara at 3 pm
By Reema Gowalla
After days of rehearsals in Kamshet’s warm weather, Atul Kumar is appreciative of Bengaluru’s pleasant evening breeze, as the actor-director brings The Company Theatre’s latest piece Aaeen to Ranga Shankara this weekend. “The 100-minute musical comedy comprises five different stories woven in various Indian languages but built on one theme — the supreme law of the land,” says Atul.
Created under the guidance of Centre for Law and Policy Research (CLPR) in Bengaluru and the Consulate General of the United States in Chennai, the performance explores the history, making and impact of the Indian and the US Constitution through a popular eye using music, dance and comedy. The narrative throws light on how the making of one book, through the power of the written word, has changed (or hasn’t) everything in our life. “Amitosh Nagpal, Sarah Mariam, Purva Naresh, Varun Grover and Lawai Bembem have contributed one story each that reflects on the diverse aspects of the constitution, and how these facets influence people’s life in the country, particularly the urban folk,” explains the director.
Via movement, music, interaction and more, tiny tales unfold on stage, each enacted within a span of 20 minutes. In Move:Remove, Lawai investigates the dynamics and politics behind the making of a constitution, especially the Indian and the US constitutions, focussing on what goes on inside the room when big decisions are made, and who’s allowed to witness that; Amitosh’s Kala Akshar Bhains Barabar is all about what happens in the fantasyland where chat-pakodewala Mr Raj declares a country of his own, where he has set his own rules along with a few friends — a goat and a kid; Sarah’s Aaj Shahani Hai Raat tells the story of a mysterious wedding procession, where nobody knows the groom, the revelation though is larger than expected; and finally Varun’s piece, Desh Drohi Akshar, is about the plight of a stand-up comedian who’s been jailed because of a joke, it’s a quick-witted take on the sedition clause and its misuse.
Music for the show is composed by Gagan Dev Riar and Anik Sharma, while Amod Bhatt is on the harmonium and Rahul Sharma on percussion. Ronita Mookerji has done movement choreography and Pravaha Khandekar is in charge of the set design.
Although Atul’s musical comedies — Piya Behrupiya and Detective Nau-Do-Gyarah — have been widely appreciated over the years, Aaeen needed a little more attention because of the subject it’s dealing with. “Given the vastness and gravity of the constitution, making a performance based on it has been an arduous task for us as a team. That said, we have mindfully and delicately chosen the facets that we wanted to pick and portray. Of course, the purpose is that the message reaches the audience, but to that we are rather relying on symbolism and imagery; poetry and imagination. We have also had immense help from CLPR and the US Consulate in crafting and curating the pieces for the performance,” says the director, adding, “The troupe mostly comprises a young and energetic bunch of artists, who are quite aware of what’s happening in their surroundings and clear about what they want to say through the performance. This lends an added rigour to the musical — a vibe we need as the theatre returns to in-person shows and live audiences after the pandemic.”
Aaeen features actors Bhagyashree Tarke, Ipshita Chakraborty Singh, Silpi Dutta, Vara Raturi, Janhvi Marathe, Suvrat Joshi, Puneet Kumar Mishra, Badal Satish Kumar and Manoj Thapar. After opening in Bengaluru at Ranga Shankara on April 16 (at 3 pm and 7.30 pm), the show will have its Mumbai run at Prithvi Theatre from April 26 until May 1.
You can book your tickets here.