Whenever R.K Narayan’s Malgudi Days is mentioned in a conversation, one can’t help but feel nostalgic. Journey to Malgudi by Creashakthi, a play directed by Ananthakrishnan Narasimhan and Meenu Srinivasan is bringing up back the lovable characters of Swami and his friends, the convent life in Albert Mission School and the rustic feel of the Malgudi Days in a stage adaptation. “Malgudi days has always been close to my heart and the stories are still popular, after 75 years of being published! As a director, it is like watching your dreams come alive… quite literally,” says Ananthakrishnan Narasimhan, barely able to contain his excitement.
Narayan’s pen brought out the joy and humour of the seemingly mundane daily life of the small town through simple narratives that are timeless, says the director. “If you have been to a convent school in India, if you’ve had bad results, strict parents or strict teachers, you’d relate right away. Irrespective of when the stories are read or performed, they’ll still be a favourite,” he says.
The essence of the stories is that they tapped into emotions, which is why Narasimhan has made sure that the focus lies on the “feel” of the story rather than the set. “We’ve used street theatre techniques called Parriattam and a style of storytelling called Kootthu, which involves telling a tale through song and dance. Though the set does have straw mats and lanterns, we wanted it to be more about how the story feels and how it is told,” he explains.
Journey to Malgudi will feature six stories, five Narayan originals and one written by the directors, which is meant to be a connecting piece. The audience will feel the “ooohs! And “aaahs!” throughout the play, says Narasimhan laughing. It has been written keeping in mind the writing style of the author. “The sixth one kind of brings all the five together. It is about a woman who comes to Malgudi and not being all that well off, decides to sleep at the railway station. She makes an unlikely friend, a coolie and set out to find adventures in the town. The themes have been weaved in such a way that it all makes sense in the end,” he says. The originals include popular short stories like Father’s Help, All Avoidable Talk, The Watchman, Ishwaran and Fellow Feeling.
Though most of us have seen the television adaptation of Malgudi Days, this 75 minute long play bears no resemblance to it, points out the director. “Again this has to do with the feeling that the stories bring. Both of us have never actually seen the television series, we’ve only read the books… I’ve read all his books,” he says having moment, “Even as we went back to research, we didn’t want it influencing the drama representation,” he says.
Narasimhan is a city based director who hails from an engineering background. This is his first full fledged directorial venture, he says excitedly. “I dabbled with a bit of theatre in college in Chennai and took it up only after I finished graduation. I was just done with engineering and this was my escape. I started writing much earlier though and theatre made me realize I’m not all that bad…” he laughs, “That’s when I took it up full time. I worked on stage, off stage and back stage and this play is a lot of the dreams I dreamt then, coming true.” The play is suitable for ages 12 years and above.
What: Journey to Malgudi by Creashakthi
When: August 11 and 12, 8 pm
Where: Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield