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One-man Hindi play at Catalina

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TO NDR bhagwan

PROMPTED by a passion for the Indian vernacular, and partly agitated by it not being brought to local stages often enough, playwright Vivian Moodley has penned Bhagwan Gave me this Life, a play performed mainly in Hindi.

Pranesh Maharaj (pictured) has been roped in to perform this one-hander, which will stage until Sunday at the Catalina Theatre on Whilson’s Wharf.

Set in 1981, lonely widower Balram engages his only company, a bird, to tell of how he came to be in his lonely state. He reminisces about his colourful past, his marriage, his life as a corporate worker, and plays out the characters amid song and dance. Moodley said being familiar with people from Inanda and knowing some of the stories, he always wanted to write something for them.

 

He said he considered the play a milestone “… in the sense that probably no other theatre practitioners have taken the risk of attempting this. If anything it will only pave the way for future writers and producers. We find ourselves amid a changing society that is fast losing its roots. Theatre is an opportunity to remember and reflect.”

Moodley said although in Hindi, the design of the script and its execution and direction made it accessible to everyone.

“One is able to watch an opera and grasp the emotions of the characters. But we didn’t go on that premise alone. There are narratives that catch you up with sprinkles of English in a clever way. I’m not telling how. You have to come watch.”

Maharaj plays many characters in the show: “What I like most about the character Balram is that he is real. An actor is required to draw on personal experiences. It’s frightening how much I know this guy. There are so many things about my late grandfather that resonate with Balram.

“I play eight characters. I can best prepare by taking each character as seriously as the main character. They all have to live and breathe.”

 

• Bhagwan Gave me this Life ends on Sunday. Book at Computicket.

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