Hungry Heart, a theatre group co-founded by Delhi directors Sohaila Kapur, Smita Bharti and producer Monica Bhasin three years ago wants to lure the city’s attention-deficit audiences back to theatre. This year’s attempt to do that includes six musicals and a performance by Pakistani qawwali king Sain Zahoor. The sufi singer from Pakistan, who was the winner of the BBC Radio’s Awards for World Music 2006, now performs across the world. “Our aim is to make noise and get people in Delhi excited about theatre. The culture in Delhi is unlike that in Mumbai, where theatre lovers make an effort to build their evening itinerary around a performance. Here, watching a play is something to do before dinner and most people get fidgety by 9pm,” says Sohaila Kapur, who shares her take on some of the plays.
Agra Bazaar(Hindi and Urdu)
Director: Habib Tanvir
Based in the early 19th century, the play is a satire on the unwillingness of the rich to change with the times. “We wanted to felicitate Habib Tanvir and to choose one of his longest running plays was the best way to do so,” says Kapur. Here’s your chance to see the master craftsman at work.
Lal Ded(English and Kashmiri)
Director: Meeta Vasisht
Also scripted by Vasisht, this play is based on the life of the apostle of peace and poetess, Lal Ded, who lived in 14th century Kashmir. “Meeta worked on this play for almost two years with a Japanese Noh performer. She is a powerhouse of talent and one among few actors who can carry off such a difficult solo act,” says Kapur.
Rumi: Unveil the Sun(English)
Director: Sohaila Kapur
Scripted by Amrit Kent, this Red Rose Society production is based on the encounter between Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, the Persian poet, and his spiritual mentor, Shams Tabrizi. “This has been declared the Year of Rumi by the United Nations and since Delhi happens to be one of the cities chosen to celebrate this, the play was an appropriate choice,” says Kapur.
Nun and the Prostitute(Hinglish)
Director: Smita Bharti
A reality show on stage. Based on the format of Big Brother, this entertaining play is set to foot-tapping live music and deals with the conflict between a nun and a prostitute who are the last surviving contestants on the show. “It’s a catfight that will make you forget Shilpa Shetty and Jane Goody,” says Kapur.
Director: Usmaan Peerzada
A Punjabi opera designed in the old nautanki style, this play is directed by one of Pakistan’s most respected playwrights, theatre actors and directors. Set in northern Pakistan, the story deals with the awakening of a king’s administrator to the plight of the people. “This is a beautiful play which, once again, traces the life and times of a bygone era and is resplendent with folk music and dances. Another reason we wanted this was because the cultural similarities between northern India and Pakistan would touch hearts,” says Kapur.
Director: Ashley Lobo
A visual interpretation of a young boy’s experiences of life. The play attempts to capture his joy, despair and angst, and uses dance as the medium of expression. “It’s a very energetic performance. Also, you will get to see different dance styles being incorporated into theatre,” says Kapur.
The Hungry Heart Festival is on at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) till 6 May. All plays start at 8pm. Tickets are available at the programme desk at IHC and cost Rs200, Rs150, Rs100 and Rs50.