When UK-based playwright Sam Steiner wrote ‘Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons’ in 2015, it took audiences by storm. In a world that was increasingly voicing its opinions in 140 characters on Twitter, Lemons introduced a concept in which people have a daily limit of 140 words for real life conversations as well.
The play won multiple Judges’ Awards at the National Student Drama Festival and was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland and the Camden People’s Theatre in London. On Friday, a Marathi adaptation of the play, titled ‘Ghanta, Ghanta, Ghanta, Ghanta, Ghanta’ will premiere in Pune, directed by Mohit Takalkar. This is Takalkar’s first play after he dominated the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, one of India’s top theatre competitions, in March with Hunkaroo.
“When I first read Lemons a few years ago, I thought it was smart, well-written and crafted in the grammar of theatre. But, I didn’t feel that I should do it. The idea of what can happen if there is a law on people speaking a certain number of words per day remained a high concept only. In the last few years, however, I began to realise that any government or figure of authority can impose an absurd law or come up with an order that was going to change our everyday lives and we would have no choice but to obey,” says Takalkar.
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Adapted by Niranjan Pednekar, the plot revolves around a couple who are in a country with a fascist government. As the 140-word limit comes into effect, they begin to explore ideas of purpose, relationship and love. Resonating wth socio-political concerns of the day, the protagonists are a public prosecutor and a musician. “They struggle to communicate amid the law’s anxieties and question if they can ever overcome the chaos in their dynamics,” says Takalkar.
Famous actor Lalit Prabhakar, with whom Takalkar has worked in two films, will play the male lead. Mallika Singh Hanspal has been cast opposite him. “When Lalit and I used to talk, for years we would say that someday we will do a play together. When this opportunity came, he readily agreed and even kept his films aside to do Ghanta,” says the director. Mallika is a non-Maharashtrian and speaks fractured Marathi.
Takalkar is famous for the processes of making his plays.