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Theatre II – Prithvi Festival + Naseeruddin Shah’s Einstein

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Prithvi is a theatrical oasis in the midst of the mad hustle and bustle, chaos and cacophony that makes up every day life in Mumbai.

Prithvi House FullFor those not familiar, for over 35 years it has been home to the performing arts of Bombay. The theatre is intimate with the audience surrounding three sides of the stage and a seating capacity of only 300.

Inside the complex is a delightful outdoor cafe where cutting chai is sipped alongside cappuccinos, where folks hang out before or after a performance chatting, reading, relaxing and soaking in the ambiance. Wander further and browse around the small bookstore bursting with books on theatre and related topics.

November is the annual Prithvi Theatre Festival and we were invited to the opening evening with my partner’s purpose to welcome the audience and introduce the premiere of Motley’s new show.

The living legend... Shashi Kapoor

Shashi Kapoor at the opening night of the Prithvi Theatre Festival

It was a ‘who’s who’ of the theatre world, graced by the man who bought and built the Juhu theatre with his wife JenniferShashi Kapoor is a living legend of Bollywood and Indian theatre.

Prithvi flourished first under his wife then his daughter’s Sanjana‘s stewardship and now more recently, his son Kunal.

It is only fitting that this year’s fest opened with a new performance by an acclaimed actor who was part of Prithvi Theatre’s 1st show in 1978 along with Om Puri and Benjamin Gilani.

Naseerrudin Shah may be better known outside India for his film roles such as Captain Nemo in the Hollywood’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or the father of the bride in Monsoon Wedding.

However in India and on stage, he is unquestionably a master of his acting craft. Any opportunity to see him perform live should NOT be missed.

A sketch done of Naseer as Einstein (TOI)

A sketch  of Naseer as Einstein (TOI, 5 Nov 2014)

So what was the play? “Einstein

No surprise, the play is about the iconic genius and described as:

Gabriel Emanuel’s EINSTEIN is a ‘line drawing’ suggesting the spirit of the lovable figure, who despite being a towering thinker and great scientist, was plagued with doubts disappointments and failures in common with the rest of mankind.

I love that it has a Canadian connection with the playwright Gabriel Emanuel. With such a powerful actor as Naseer, a remarkable story, strong script, it was live theatre at its best!

Opening night was predictably packed so I felt doubly fortunate Naseer and Ratna extended invitations to the ‘zero’ performance the night before. For that evening as my partner was busy backstage, I invited another friend to join and we were the first in line, snagging the choicest seats centre stage just behind the official photographer.

Einstein rehearsal

Rehearsing Einstein at Prithvi Theatre 5 Nov 2014

While I’d hoped to see it again on opening night, could generously give way so others could enjoy this remarkable production. While the theatrical community was crammed on benches, stairs and standing, my partner was backstage while I drifted between behind the theatre, catching bits from the wings and out to the café to chat with various folks.

Following the play was the festival opening night reception with wining, dining and the usual social rounds with laughter and good cheer. A small kerfuffle with the media that (other than the media sponsor) were barred from marring the evening, jostling for photo ops and star quips.

Naseer as Einstein (Photo: NCPA website)

Naseer as Einstein (Photo: NCPA website)

If you are lucky and already have tickets, you can catch Einstein tonight (ie Sun, 16 Nov 2014) at NCPA’s Tata Theatre – 6:30pm. If not, keep an eye out for other opportunities!!

And for my friends outside of India… alas you may just need to live vicariously through this post…

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  1. thewriteedge says:

    What an amazing experience! So jealous that you got to see Naseerudin Shah on stage. And you got to see Shashi Kapoor! Would love to do that someday!

  2. Wow!! I wish to see Prithvi Theatre someday. I can imagine how striking the play would have been with Naseer’s acting 🙂

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