Standing atop a mini stool, resting his back against a bright red wall and striking an almost demented pose, Makrand Deshpande says, “There is a child in everyone. Scratch beneath the surface, you will surely discover it.” A staunch believer of this, he has got adults to play children in Timeboy—a Christmas offering for children. It is a powerful and endearing play by two powerhouses of Indian theatre—Makrand Deshpande and his Ansh Theatre Group and Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal and her Poor-Box Productions. While one wonders if it was the dearth of child actors that prompted his decision, Deshpande explains his stand, “It is a role reversal of sorts. Elders always tell kids what they need to do. So, I thought why not get adults to play younger roles. I am sure kids will enjoy the act.” The results can be awkward, plain embarrassing or really powerful like in the case of six feet tall Hidayat Samiplaying a seven-year-old restless penguin.
Through a talented cast Timeboy tells the story of Murli, a penguin who cannot wait to find out who he will be when he grows up. His friends, Sammy-the duckling and Rohan-the zebra, join him in his quest to beat time. On Christmas, Murli’s wish gets fulfilled with a time machine that helps him make a trip to the future. Timeboy released last year but it was not until recently that Mahabanoo, who watched the play at Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, decided to promote it. “It has such innocence and there is some moral for everyone,” she says. This is the first time that Timeboy will be screened at the Canvas Laugh Factory, Lower Parel. Unlike other theatres, the stage here is relatively smaller but according to Mahabanoo there is solution to every problem, “We have come up with innovative ways, like the actors entering through the audience.” She has also invited 300 underprivileged children to attend a special screening. “Some of these children's parents are rag pickers and this is our X-mas gift to them,” says Mahabanoo, whose facebook friends have also contributed to the cause, “One of them has baked 300 cupcakes and another friend will be donating soft drinks for the kids.”
In an age where theatre stalwarts refuse to work with one another, Mahabanoo and Makrand have survived each other’s company due to the wonderful rapport they share and their immense respect for each other’s body of work. The two have also thought of the way forward, “We hope to take the play to schools,” says Mahabanoo.
Quiz Makrand about his favourite character and he replies with a smile, “Murli. Someday I will probably throw him out and perform the role.” Next on his list is Rohan-the zebra played by Rumi Jaspal. “Rumi has taken the character to a new high and added much value to it.”
As present day directors will attest, there is a dearth of good scripts in theatre, especially for children, Timeboy is Mahabanoo’s and Makrand’s attempt at bringing back meaningful entertainment to theatres. The duo hopes that it will become as much a part of the fabric of the season as Santa’s red trousers, reindeer, mistletoe and midnight mass. With Christmas day around the corner, rehearsal time is about improvisations. Makrand has challenged the cast to sing their lines rather than recite them. An earthworm dance has been incorporated as well.
Timeboy’s script is so powerful that it transforms everything that happens on stage; add to this the talented cast, scriptwriter, and director. Execution is the key and Makrand is confident that these final touches will transform the play.
Together with the cast’s brilliance and acting prowess, Timeboy is expected to wrap up the spirit of the season in a true festive glow. After all where would one get to see such heart-warming performances that truly live up to the spirit of the season!
Venue: Canvas Laugh Factory, 3rd Floor,
Palladium Mall, Lower Parel
Dates: December 7 to 25
Tickets: www.bookmyshow.com or
Call: 022 43485000