In Anticipation of Vrindavan
Deepa Karnad Dhurka
I cannot CANNOT wait to watch Naatak’s Vrindavan. Not merely because this is a celebratory production to mark the theater’s 50th play in its 20th year, although this alone is cause for huge excitement. Truth be told, I can’t wait mostly because of the confluence of individual and collective genius that has created this.
I have had the absolute delight of watching insanely analytical and creative minds obsess over sets and props. And spend long days evenings and nights too. For example, the design document, which reads like a set designer’s dream, was created in the wee hours of the morning before an international flight. The construction crew toiled at it and a centimeter here, a shade of paint there, the ‘right’ texture were all chased down to perfection, even if that meant redoing swaths of work. I have also seen props volunteers spend tracts of time absolutely engaged in equipping the widows with the right accessories, among other things. Respect!
Last weekend is when I finally got access to all the music tracks recorded at a live performance. They took my breath away. The words travel from hundreds of years ago. You’d not know unless told that they were all penned by the playwright himself for Vrindavan. The compositions sound divine and true to the genre. A 70’s-Bollywood-style song completely caught me off guard as for the longest time I kept wondering how in the world I had missed hearing this song all my growing up years! All this is brute talent. Now for the genius bits. The melodies have twists and turns that kick in unexpectedly and ruthlessly tug at your heartstrings, if not make you weep! Yes, in the middle of commute traffic, on the way to work. The diction of the vocalists is perfection and I can tell you, Marwari is no easy language to sound authentic in. How did you do that??? How much has gone into it? I know for a fact that most of the music team is not from Rajasthan. How!!!???? I have no clue but as a listener, I am in awe. The crown jewel is the word; lyrics crafted with a mastery over language, culture, context and poetry that is beyond belief.
It doesn’t stop here. Kathak dances performed to live vocals and rhythm – when was the last time you saw this? Besides, did you know that the dances were choreographed in Kolkata at a renowned academy by a legend in the art? And I get to watch my favorite dance teacher in the Bay Area in each and every one of the performances in Vrindavan!
If you noticed, I haven’t said a word about the play itself so far. That I am saving up to savor at the theater, framed by all else I have seen, heard and learnt. All I ask now is for the forces to let me watch and experience Vrindavan!