The New Indian Express | Mad Scientist's Topi Goes on a Hilarious Soul-swapping Spree
This weekend city-based hobbyist theatre group Kalayan promises to make audience laugh with four shows of its Hindi sci-fi production Kayapalat.
Scene from a sci-fi comedy performed by a hobbyist group
Written and directed by playwright and retired scientist Mathura Kalauny, the comedy features an inventor as the protagonist. His latest invention – a thinking cap – becomes cause for much confusion, and amusement for viewers.
“The cap has a magnetic mechanism that activates the neurons,” says Kalauny, who has penned about 20 other plays. “In Hindi, the dialogues say, when someone puts it on, their aatma goes into the topi and returns to the wearer’s body after the thinking is done. So it speeds up the thinking process.”
But when a long-lost friend comes home to visit Dhruv the Inventor, the two try on the caps one after the other, and fall down, unconscious. The cap falls off and their aatmas get switched.
Meanwhile, a thief pays a visit to the inventor’s home lab and makes away with the topi.
Other characters include a servant who’s also a poet and another whom Dhruv uses as a guinea pig for all his experiments. A harried wife, a philosophical brother who sees the world through an alcoholic haze and a lovelorn girl-next-door make up the rest of the quirky lot.
The play was written over 25 years ago, and first performed in Chowdaiah Memorial Hall in 1991. “Those were simple times,” says Kalauny – times when a two-and-a-half-hour play wasn’t too long.
Last May, post retirement, the writer and founder of Kalayan decided to revive it, and ‘made it modern’. “The characters are the same,” he says. But it has been shortened to 110 minutes.
The sets have also changed a little – the living and lab areas is one space, and are distinguished by lighting. “In Chowdaiah, we had separate areas,” he says. “But in Jagriti, space doesn’t allow for it.” Four shows were staged at the Whitefield performance venue last November.
The nine characters are essayed by hobbyist actors part of the loose group of about 300, who have been part of Kalayan’s workshops and scattered across different cities. “Three have been part of previous productions,” he says. “The others are new here, but also have acting experience.”
Kalayan presents Kayalapat, a Hindi science-fiction comedy, written and directed by Mathura Kalauny, at Jagriti on Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and on Sunday at 3 and 6.30 pm.
Cast: Sangeeta Panda, Faria Fatma, Sarbajeet Das, Abhitej Gupta, Vijay Sharma, Nikhil Manohar, Radhika Jain, Minakshi Sharma, Utkarsh Gaharwar, Shivanshu Mishra, Amit Suthar, Saishree and Sakshi Srivastava.
Jagriti is a Performance Arts space dedicated to Theatre, Music, Dance and Comedy. Founded in 2011 by Arundhati and Jagdish Raja, the space has hosted several productions from India and around the world. A 200-seat theatre, built around a full-thrust stage, it is fully equipped to cater to both artistes and audience. The main stage is designed for intimate performances, with adjoining spaces for informal lectures and gatherings, and an attached restaurant. Jagriti is owned and operated by the not-for-profit ART Foundation, a registered charitable trust.
The Rooftop - above the main auditorium is an open-to-sky space with a staging area that can accommodate about 50 people. A raised and walled off platform can work as a perfect area for puppet theatre. The Rooftop has a restroom and a pantry.
The Terrace - alongside the auditorium, the Terrace can accommodate about 20 people as an informal gathering area.
Lumbini - extending out from the foyer, Lumbini has a stage and an open-to-sky terraced space for about 80 people.