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From Vision to Materialisation - Malgudi: A Nostalgic Tale

24 Jan 2023

It all began with the cultural committee coming up with the idea of Parivartan (transformation) as the central theme for the annual day. Mr Nalin, the drama and theatre teacher, chose R.K. Narayan’s novel The Vendor of Sweets from the world-renowned series, Malgudi Days. He aimed to depict on stage the bond between a father and son and how the father's unwavering love causes his selfish and rebellious son to undergo a profound transformation. Eventually, the vision grew much larger than the theme of Parivartan and soon replaced it.

Although the new theme was warmly embraced, dramatising this 1967 book presented a significant challenge. Mr. Nalin took the responsibility of being a foresighted director and transforming the book into a musical by fusing dance performances with drama. After much effort, the director created a play with a running time of 45 minutes and ten dance performances lasting 30 minutes, condensing nine episodes of the TV show Malgudi Days. The choreographers of the theme-based dance performances, which ranged from regional traditional dance to ultra-modern robotic dance, were Mrs. Resmi, the in-house dance teacher, and Ms. Shraddha, a resource person.

Once the cast was finalised the students were trained to understand their characters and roles. They were then introduced to the provisional script, which they had to enact on stage. As the students were being introduced to theatre practices, the director was keen to have someone with experience in English literature modify the screenplay and polish it. The first few days were challenging, but as the days went on, the participants settled in and started to look forward to the training sessions. They developed a fascination with theatre and wanted to learn more about it. With the students, the director had a conversation about theatre and drama. He encouraged them to actively contribute by making suggestions and taking on the responsibility to realise the goal.

The students used imaginary props while acting during the rehearsal sessions, adopting mannerisms and body language of their characters. The outfits that the director had in mind were swiftly being acquired by the Cultural Committee. The Art Department was working on making life-size props for the grand finale. The Music Department joined the group as stage rehearsals got underway. The all-time favourite Malgudi theme was reproduced by students using their flute, keyboard, and tabla. The students' captivating live music permeated the entire play. On the day of the final performance, things were both hectic and exciting. The Sprintoor Auditorium was decorated to evoke the feel of bygone eras. The stage's authentic props accurately recreated the atmosphere of a traditional South Indian village. Once the characters were dressed in their costumes and makeup, they appeared to be from a different era.

On 30th December 2022, the vision of Malgudi: A Nostalgic Tale materialised and became something larger than life. It turned out to be a triumph of planning and perseverance that provided all the participants with an opportunity to hone and exhibit their skills.

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