Pick of the week: The Bapu story

The National Centre for the Performing Arts will host a musical on Mahatma Gandhi starting this weekend to mark Independence Day

The man behind Mahatma: The 2-hour musical includes folk, jazz, rock, ballad and dubstep.
The man behind Mahatma: The 2-hour musical includes folk, jazz, rock, ballad and dubstep.

He has inspired many stories. From films and plays to songs and TV series, he has been written about, discussed and scrutinized in great detail. So when the thought of doing something “different” on Mahatma Gandhi cropped up, director Danesh R. Khambata knew he had set himself a big task.

“We at Silly Point Productions wanted to do something challenging, innovative. Yes, Gandhi’s story has been done many times, but it deserves to be done again, especially in the times we live in,” says Khambata.

He immersed himself in books, documentaries, articles and research papers on the Father of the Nation. And 18 months later, a musical on the life and times of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born.

“The musical talks about the human side of Gandhi, about what made the man, how he interacted with his wife, how he felt when people chose violence over ahimsa—something that hasn’t been dealt with extensively,” says Khambata, adding, “During research, I found that there was so much the world didn’t know about him. Did you know he didn’t like being called a legend, a Mahatma?”

That’s not the only highlight of Gandhi—The Musical, which will be showcased at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai, starting this weekend, to mark Independence Day. The 2-hour performance will portray many known and not-so-known incidents in the life of Gandhi—from the 1922 Chauri Chaura incident to his assassination in 1948—enacted by a cast of 50 actors, dancers and singers, with Abhishek Krishnan and Chirag Vora playing the younger and older Gandhi, respectively.

Actor Boman Irani will be the voice of “the Raj”. The performance has been choreographed by Bollywood choreographer Bertwin D’Souza. “Gandhi won’t dance on stage, but he will definitely sing,” laughs Vora.

The 19 songs in the musical are its USP. “I wanted to deviate from the clichéd use of sound in a musical. We have included contemporary, folk, jazz, rock, ballad and even dubstep music, and the songs are in Hindi and Gujarati. The idea is to present universal music,” says Khambata.

Deepa Gahlot, head of theatre and film programming at the NCPA, hopes the unique musical will find audiences in all age groups. “It’s a complete package that brings together contemporary dance and music genres and an evergreen story of grit and determination,” she says.

Bringing together the package was not easy, admits Khambata. “Gandhi lived the life of a fakir . Imagine making it grand.”

Gandhi—The Musical will be staged from 13-21 August, 4pm/7.30pm, at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, NCPA Marg, Nariman Point (66223724). Tickets, Rs.500, Rs.700, Rs.1,000, Rs.2,000, Rs.3,000, Rs.4,000 and Rs.5,000, available at the venue and on in.bookmyshow.com. For details, visit Ncpamumbai.com.

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