Mohit Takalkar

Arts Practice

Grant Period: Over two months

This grant supports Pune-based theatre director Mohit Takalkar to develop a production based on a Marathi script titled ‘Flat Number F-1/105’. Written by playwright Ashutosh Potdar, the production will be devised through active collaborations between the director, actors and the playwright.

‘Flat Number F-1/105’ presents the story of a neighbourhood in a cosmopolitan locality. A couple plans to paint the interiors of their apartment green. As the story unfolds, the apparently simple job of painting turns into a dramatic event, unsettling the couple’s private space, disturbing the emotional world of the painter and creating ripples in the entire neighbourhood. The play is a dark comedy mainly scripted in Marathi, along with Hindi, Gujarati and English and explores the perceptions of ‘colour’ in contemporary society. Weaving the personal and the political as well as the physical and the psychological, the play investigates into colour unravelling the various associations and interpretations, affinities and contrasts, connections and fears, social hierarchies and individual frustrations within the aesthetic and cultural spheres of contemporary urban society.

For Mohit, the complex layers of this play offer multiple possibilities for developing a performance. Through several readings of the play even as the script was being developed, Mohit began to see how colour is not just a physical property. In his words, ‘there is a public and private language of colour that is organic and internal to human relationships. Colour itself is a thought or a space.’ While enabling him to see how colours play on people in the aesthetic and political spheres, the play also offered Mohit an opportunity to explore aspects of the performance space, texture of materials used and expression of actors shifting between fantasy and reality.

An important aspect of the play that excites Mohit is the idea of the multi-culturality that it explores. In the last few years, having directed over thirty plays in Marathi, English and Hindi, Mohit recognises this, among the few important artistic concerns that have always intrigued him. His plays have usually explored the boundaries of language and he has worked on various play-making possibilities attempting to address the contemporary in interesting ways. Aasakta’s actors themselves come from varied cultural contexts within Maharashtra and speak several dialects of Marathi. The play thus also becomes a platform that enables an exploration into questions of ‘Marathi-ness’ and identity.  

More importantly, Mohit attempts in this production, to further explore the realms of ‘absurd theatre’ in Marathi. In his elaborate tracing of the history of the ‘absurd’ in the Marathi experimental theatre context, Mohit speaks about how the element of ‘absurd’, always existed albeit inconspicuously in Marathi theatre, but has been brought to the fore in recent times through plays by Ashutosh Potdar and Yashwantrao Chavan.  This idea, he feels, needs further engagement. The play already has that intrinsic quality of the ‘absurd’ which Mohit will further push by shuffling the scenes. In addition to this, Mohit also notes how Marathi theatre has always been playwright-centric. There have not been many attempts to move away from the playwright’s perspective and explore a fresh directorial vision. This production clearly attempts to do that. By establishing a collaborative relationship between the playwright, director and actors, the production seeks to challenge established norms in the present Marathi theatre context.

The performance is scheduled to premiere in Pune on December 23, 2014.