The Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards are back and Akvarious Productions find themselves in the list of nominations once again. Last year their play, The Interview bagged four awards at the METAs. This year, their recent production, Baghdad Wedding competes for five titles, including Best Play, Best Director and Best Actor (Male). Hoping to put up a ‘damn good show’, director Akarsh Khurana tells us what to expect from the play…
What is Baghdad Wedding essentially about? The play is about a whole lot of things, but for me, the story at the core is one about three friends who go through a whole gamut of experiences, and how these experiences take a toll them, in turn affecting who they turn out to be. It is a story of love, loss and hope, set against the backdrop of war-ravaged Iraq.
You came across the award-winning script written by Hassan Abdulrazzak three years ago, but chose to direct it when you matured as a director. How challenging has it been to translate the script onto the stage, giving your personal directorial vision to it? It hasn’t been easy. It is a wonderful, complex and layered script. I did a lot of homework this time around. I think we have managed well in the final analysis. Half the battle was won with the casting which was pretty spot on. The actors have busted their balls to get it right. And then, there’s Pradeep Vaiddya, who is a magician with lights. He agreed to come on board and make my vision look just right. So it’s a collective vision.
What is it about Iraq, and the wedding in particular, that made it a relatable subject to you? Many people ask me that. The answer is simply because I found similarities between Iraqi people and Indian people. Our situations may not be the same, but emotions, reactions, ideologies – all run pretty parallel. Whatever part of the world you hail from, leaving your homeland is a huge thing. Different people cope with that differently, but the range of reactions remains the same.
Which is the next production you’re working on? We just opened Spunk, which is the second play by Siddharth Kumar, who also wrote The Interview. So we’re doing a couple of shows of that, as well as, Baghdad Wedding, Rafta Rafta (by Ayub Khan Din) and a few others. We are also in talks for a children’s play in collaboration with Ranga Shankara. I’m also reading a lot of plays – trying to decide what to direct next for the NCPA Centrestage Theatre Festival at the end of the year._
Baghdad Wedding will be performed at Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi on 4th March.