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BLT offers a modern take on the fantastical  Mayabazaar 

A true blue Tamil and Telugu film aficionado would have certainly watched the 1957 epic, Mayabazar.

A fantasy movie that brought to the silver screen SFX that were unthinkable in those times.

Recreating the magic, but this time for the stage, is Bangalore Little Theatre’s Sridhar Ramanathan.

“There were 11 versions of Mayabazar, but the 1957 film was the most popular. I remember watching it as a child during the 1970s and enjoying every minute of it,” recollects Ramanathan.

It’s a tale of how Ghatotkacha (the son of Bhima and Hidimbi from the Mahabharatha) and his band of funny rakshasas (devils), who help Abhimanyu (the son of Arjuna—one of the Pandavas) and Sasirekha (Abhimanyu’s first cousin) get married.

Mayabazar is an illusionary market set up by Ghatotkacha.

“When I bought a VCD and played it for my children, it just didn’t work. It was too slow and wasn’t fun enough,” explains Ramanathan.

Therefore, instead of adapting the screenplay as is to the stage, Ramanathan, who was keen on recreating this fun story, worked on a script that places the original characters (Ghatotkacha and others) in contemporary situations.

“It’s not a children’s play. It’s a play for the child in you. It’s a funny take on the film. SFX in the original meant you saw arrows flying, but in the play, people hold arrows and run across the stage,” he says.

Even the hit Vivaha Bhojanambu (wedding feast) song from the film, which is popular for the ‘aha-ha-ha’ rhetoric, has been modified.

“The song’s lyrics are completely localised to the Bengaluru context. So there are mentions of idli, vada and dosa in our version, which is a rap,” says the director.

A 90-minute play with 20 different characters is enacted by a rolling cast of 34, all of whom are working professionals with an interest in theatre.

“Every time you watch the play, there is a difference. Every actor has a different approach, giving the character a new perspective,” says Ramanathan.

It’s a story that has been etched in the pages of Indian cinema and justifiably, BLT believes their version of Mayabazar is a tribute to the timeless classic.

Tomorrow at Purandara Bhavan, Indira Nagar. 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm. Tickets (Rs 200) on  bookmyshow.com

Ayesha Tabassum

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