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An honest approach to scripts

Last Updated : 05 April 2016, 18:31 IST

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Theatre may operate in a variety of mediums, function in different styles and take on diverse manifestations for its consumption. But for evergreen theatre artiste and director V Balakrishnan, theatre knows, speaks and symbolises only one language in terms of communication — the language of communion.

“It’s that language which embraces and unifies masses across classes so that people can come together and participate in the art form collectively. Theatre educates and entertains the audience through this language.”

One of the few directors who has swum against the tide in theatre, he has churned out more than 150 productions. His script rankles with poetry and music and helps the audience travel an image-provoking journey and Balakrishnan shows no predilection to either of them.

His flamboyant craftsmanship and honest approach have led to the many success stories of ‘Nisha Theatre’, his theatre group. And fuelled by this principle, he is galloping to Bengaluru with his latest production ‘Gallantly Fought The Queen’.

It is a play around the historic Queen Rani Lakshmibai, Queen of Jhansi and has been inspired by  books, ‘The Queen Of Jhansi’ by Mahasweta Devi and ‘The Ranee Of Jhansi’ by D V Tahamankar.

Spliced with poems by Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, it was Balakrishnan’s fascination towards historic heros and freedom fighters that led to this play.

“I particularly wanted to tell the story of Lakshmibai to dispel the myths that revolve around her. I feel that she has been too glorified and misrepresented.”

“For the play, we have researched works by authors who have documented the era in the form of letters and journals and hence have tried to keep the script as authentic as possible.”
Fondly known as Bala sir, he has been in the scene since 2000 and taken theatre to a different pedestal.

One cannot miss the hint of gloom in his voice, when he analyses the challenges that theatre faces such as the lack of infrastructure, adequate and affordable rehearsal spaces and lack of theatre education and exposure in schools.

“Regional theatre is less explored. This has led to the shaking of our roots and traditions. I think this is because people who come to watch theatre are not exposed to regional languages too much.”

Known for easily swinging from the artistic to commercial scripts and spaces, he says that he dislikes such distinctions.

“There are many who believe in genre-based plays as they feel that one has more appeal over the other. There are also many who tell me my plays are dark. I just work in whichever genre I get to work with, as long as I am honest to my script.” And not to forget, the lack of commitment he talks about.

“Many look at theatre as a ‘tipping off’ point to cinema for they cash in on the fact that film directors look for actors who are from a theatre background since the former feel that the latter will be more grounded. However, this myth will not last. People try to enter cinema after acting in about 3 or 4 plays but it’s not helpful to just scratch the surface.”

‘Gallantly Fought The Queen’ will be performed on April 8, 7.30 pm and on April 9, 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm, at Ranga Shankara, J P Nagar.

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Published 05 April 2016, 16:52 IST

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