There’s a dreamy, gossamer like quality always followed by a nip in the air. The evening’s blossom and you can feel it in the look. But this is expected when the unforced, mildly, and sometimes,sharply divergent memories come back to be relived each day. The language is theirs and the dialogues too. It’s been forty years now and the theatregoers feel that there are forty more to go. Such is the aura around one of the oldest and one of the most popular theatre in Mumbai- Prithvi. The fun is in the meandering. Listening to raw voices so beautifully constructed is fascinating. More so with experimental theatre- doing experimental theatre is no less arduous or heroic today. Earlier,you didn’t load theatre with livelihood and most people had day jobs. Today for 80 per cent of actors it is all they do.
Even the genres are being thoroughly and beautifully explored. Earlier, Hindi plays were the popular ones. Whatever the theme, it was the Hindi language that ruled the roost when theatre was being spoken about. Today, genres like mystery, crime, English comedy plays , English classics and other such are also being explored and loved. This also has a lot to do with how English soaps are gradually seeping into the Indian culture and being loved by the audiences. Whatever the reason maybe, the exploration is here to stay and it is not worth changing for!
Having said that, although the scent of Mumbai screams of a world which has so beautifully existed since years, the passion, even today, needs channelization. In the past, giving it all meant that all Sundays and vacations were set aside for theatre. All along, there have been examples of benign indifference as well as outright betrayals. In Mumbai where so much theatre happens and where a tradition exists, we have not been able to build a single small permanent space designed for theatre after Prithvi Theatre .
This again is a debatable point if you ask a theatre lover. All said and done, they however don’t seem to agree that theatre is dying. Yes pubs and galleries have replaced the places where curtain raiser plays used to be, but the younger actors seem to be taking theatre to art galleries, libraries and even pubs. The quest for space has become in this case a new kind of theatre. Also something to be noted is that, earlier, many journalists were writing about theatre. How many journalists do that today? In the times when it was initiated, theatre was culturally important. The press was also supportive. Today, with a sharp dip, hopefully revival is around the corner. Fortunately for this generation there is social media, a freer space to promote and build up again. Along with the voices of the readers, minimum editorial interferences, insightful efforts, and personal voice of theatregoers being encouraged, the English plays in Mumbai have also seen an upward trend as far as quality and popularity go. This is a rare albeit a welcome happening. With a vast array of genres to choose from, even the audiences who are just starting off in this medium, have a plethora of events which fit their choices and interests. So now that you know so much, go ahead and explore. It’s worth a try, because you might just like it!
With the lifestyle, culture and creative exploration that the theatre life of Mumbai provides, it’d be a surprise if you don’t fall for it. But don’t worry, it’s going to be an interesting fall! You might just end up discovering a new side to your personality.
Written By: Nikita Mehta | Post Date: 27th May 2016