Inversive. Dark. Comic. Even as the director and cast describe their play, Trivial Disasters, they can’t suppress their chuckles because that’s how “funny” it is. “It is about our times and realities, but it is a cheeky take on the grave realities of the way we live,” says veteran director Atul Kumar, adding that “it’s a hilariously bizarre world where marriages come with warranties and exchange offers, kidnappers haggle over ransom like groceries, serial killers are television stars and poet laureates compose for municipal signage. All things preposterous are run-of-the-mill and anything ordinary is earth-shattering.”
Written by Ajay Krishnan, the play has been successfully staged over the last few years at multiple venues and cities, including Chennai (last August). But this time, the cast comprises a quartet of talented screen actors: Kalki Koechlin, Purab Kohli, Richa Chadda and Cyrus Sahukar. Kumar, who chose the four because he really wanted to work with them, says, “Kalki brings her rigour to everything she does; Purab with his innocence is a pleasure to work with; Cyrus brings a nervous energy to the show that makes it edgy and endearing; and Richa is a fabulous actor.” Presented by Showhouse Events, the play, which comprises of eight sketches, will kick-start its country-wide tour with Bangalore and Chennai. But Kumar has plans for it beyond the India tour. “Since it is not limited by space, I plan to take it to alternative spaces. I haven’t decided where, but the show will adapt itself as we go along,” he signs off.
On July 25, at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Malleswaram. From Rs. 700 onwards. Details: in.bookmyshow.com
Each character is different—not just the costumes but also internally—so we have to change everything, from voice to physicality. Favourite character: A young French salesman—the first male character I’m playing on stage. About the team: Cyrus keeps us on our toes as he forgets his lines. We never know when he’ll improvise. Atul always tells him, “Aap writer ko thoda izzat deejiye, woh acha writer hai (give the writer some respect, he is a good writer).
I always wanted to be a part of Atul’s productions. When they called up, I immediately offered my services as the curtain—I’d descend on stage draped in light blue—but they refused. Challenges: I can’t name just one. I’ve written a 46-volume book. Recitals will start on the 16th of next month. On the director: He doesn’t ask you to change your personality. Instead, he works with your traits—making your weaknesses your strengths. The same qualities I’ve been looking for in a lover.
The vibe is interesting. Put four artistes, who are also screen actors, out of their comfort zone, together, and things go crazy. But we have a strong director, who is also the best actor in the room.Theatre now: I was feeling jaded as an actor and wanted to work with someone like Atul who would help me. Moreover, theatre is a whole personality change. You open up, learn new skills.
The play is funny because we do exactly the opposite of what people expect us to do. I’m returning to theatre after many years and it is challenging. Challenges: There are no retakes. And you have to be really committed, inculcate discipline. Favourite character: I play an enthusiastic sales girl; she is really funny.
—Surya Praphulla Kumar