(Hindostani, Duration: 90 Min)
Group: Aasakta Kalamanch, Pune
About the Play
Three great religions, Islam – Christianity and Judaism, share the story of Abraham binding and nearly sacrificing his son. Though based on this myth, CHAHETA (The Beloved) is not the story of ‘that’ Abraham and imagines what happened after father and son come down from the mountain. The play explores the psychological scars wrought upon Abraham’s son after surviving his traumatic event.
Did Abraham bring his young son to the mountain for the purpose of human sacrifice, as his wife and son believe, or was he simply trying to toughen up his sensitive young son with a father-and-son camping trip, as he claims? Did an angel of God in the form of a brown sheep, actually intervene on the mountain as scriptures dictate? Chaheta’s dysfunctional family misplaced in time, walks a fascinating line between Inclusivity and alienation and in turn attempts to question the sanity and sanctity of people who claim to talk with God.
The violent abstraction that sometimes borders on the absurd takes us to a place far more insidious than we can imagine.
About the Group
AASAKTA is one of the leading contemporary theatre organisations of India based in Pune city of Maharashtra. The most defining characteristic of the group has to be our fearlessness to experiment – be it in form or in substance. The desire to experiment gave us the courage to break away from traditional moulds and create fresh idioms in theatre. The constant urge to seek out the new, create something afresh, ensured that, in all our productions, we deal with contemporary aesthetics and unique, contemporary content. Our absolute insistence on innovative and exclusive production value and precision in technique make our productions visually appealing too. Aasakta’s core strength is, undoubtedly, its talented and motivated members who are pivotal players in its growth and success. Thus far in its journey Aasakta has produced plays in Marathi, Hindi & English languages. In the span of 16 years the group has so far had 700 performances of different plays that it has produced. Apart from the several awards that we have won at various state level competitions and performances at National Theatre Festivals throughout throughout its journey, Aasakta has received accolades from audience and critics alike. Aasakta’s plays have been selected and performed at National School of Drama’s Bharat Rang Mahotsav and TIE’s Jashne Bachpan, Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre and Satellite Theatre Festivals, Prithvi Theatre Festival, Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival, Park Theatre Festival, etc. With each new play Aasakta attempts to venture into previously unexplored territory. For Aasakta, the journey still remains the true destination.
About the Director
Mohit Takalkar, trained as a professional chef, set up his own theatre group Aasakta in Pune in 2003. Active in various aspects of theatre for the past eighteen years he has earned a reputation for the group and him, with his works; widely acclaimed by both the audience and the critics. His plays have been regularly invited to National and International festivals. Having directed more than thirty plays, his first play was Girish Karnad’s Yayati in 2000. Some of the other notable plays are ‘Mein Huun Yusuf Aur Ye Hai Mera Bhai’, ‘F-1/105’, ‘Uney Purey Shahar Ek’ ‘Comrade Kumbhakarna’, ‘Gajab Kahani’, ‘Garbo’, ‘Tu’ and ‘Kashmir Kashmir’.
He has been awarded Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar, Homi Bhabha Fellowship, Shankar Nag Theatre Award, Aditya Vikram Birla Kalakiran Puraskar, Amrish Puri Award, Sahitya Rangbhoomi Fellowship, Zee Gaurav Puraskar, Mama Varerkar Puraskar, Maharashtra State Award etc. He is a Charles Wallace Scholar under which he acquired a Postgraduate degree in theatre Practice from the University of Exeter, UK with distinction under the guidance of Prof. Phillip Zarrilli. He runs his own restaurants, ‘Barometer’ and ‘Baobab’ in Pune.
This is my second collaboration with Zuabi after 2016’s ‘Main Huun Yusuf Aur Ye Hai Mera Bhai’, and is another piece of proof for the theory. What attracted me to this play is the flawed and lying masculinity being called out to the nature of guilt and responsibility and the morality of instrumentalising human life. The play, when I first read was an unforgettably unnerving experience for me. Names matter when dealing with the important issue of lineal succession. Chaheta integrates elements of the story from the Qur’an and Genesis, such that devotees of each might still claim ownership. The decision not to provide names to any character except for Abraham deliberates ambiguity regarding names and enhances the play’s mythical status. Through these careful choices, Chaheta invites people of all religions across the world to enter into the story and see it through their own faith and in turn question their religion, the burden of myths associated and the judgement handed over.
Charting the very slow-burning realisation of the son who simply cannot connect with no one in the real world, the play blends, mournful poetic instances with stabs of brute reality on the background of a farm full of Sheep. These duelling registers attempt to reflect the trauma of the boy and is emotionally illuminating.
For me, the play is allegorical, satirical, anti-realist which defies genre labels and is a frontal attack on patriarchal assumptions, in which a weakened father figure must face his own hubris.
27th January 2020 @ 4:00 pm
KT Mohamed Regional Theatre
Director: Mohit Takalkar
Cast & Credit
Playwright: Amir Nizar Zuabi
Hindostani Translation: Shirin Bismillah
Design & Direction: Mohit Takalkar
Light Design: Pradeep Vaiddya
Costume Design: Rashmi Rode
Assistant Directors: Suyog Deshpande, Hrishikesh Pujari
Publicity Design: TusharTajane
Light Assistance: Sachin Lele, Vikrant Thakar
Costume Asst: Devika Kale, Mugdha Bhalerao
Production Assistance: Vivan Vaidya, Payal Patil, Vibhav Takey, Alap Vaidya, Prajakta Salbarde, Hitesh Porje
Property Construction: Amey Bhalerao
Calligraphy: B. G. Limaye
Stills: Nikhil Gangawne
Script Supervisor: Jitendra Joshi, Ajeet Singh, Ipshita Chakraborty, Chirag Khandelwal
Script Consultant: Abhishek Majumdar
Rehearsal Space: Tansaa (Sonale) TCT Workspace (Kamshet) ELab Studio (Pune)
Special Thanks: Nachiket Chidgopkar, Ajeet Kalbag, Ashok Kulkarni (Saarang Theatre Festival)