Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Nautanki Style

Twelfth Night or What You Will by William Shakespeare

‘Piya Behrupiya’ Hindi adaptation by Amitosh Nagpal | Directed by Atul Kumar

Cast: Geetanjali Kulkarni, Neha Saraf, Mansi Multani, Trupti Khambar, Sagar Deshmukh, Amitosh Nagpal, Gagan Riar, Saurabh Nayyar, Mantra Mugdh

A Variant Nautanki Style

I have seen a few nautanki and street plays during my younger days. The definition of the play completely changes in the north and the south sides though certain aspects are the same for both. The fluidity in the nautanki style is mixed with extempore music which is the fun of any theatre medium.

Piya Behrupiya was an excellent application for the nautanki style where there was seamless connect with various musical styles taken from all over the northern section. The cast used the stage with great skill. Atul Kumar’s version of this light-hearted winter special was done to a perfect tee.

The play was first staged on the twelfth night after Christmas in 1601. It was intended to be a comedy play spreading joy while balancing viewership preferences. The play has a lot of double-entendre comments that are transferred into the Hindi version with some localization.

Experiencing a Diverse Outlook

The story is so typical of any of Shakespeare’s comedy with the double role played by twins. I am fascinated with Shakespeare’s theatre, and I feel most comfortable with comedy plays. His play explores human emotions best when he trivializes those serious emotions of love with the right touch of comedy.

We have a Duke in love with his concept of love in the mourning Lady Olivia. The messenger twin-girl slips and slides into the preference circles of Lady Olivia. From there the play takes over the entire comic factor and spins it with great aplomb.

The roles played by all the characters showed how each loved the other actors’ performance. That ebb and flow of camaraderie performance were very pronounced in this play. This reminded me of the movies where Crazy Mohan and Kamal Hassan’s team would balance out comedy with great flair.

Essaying Theatre and the Takeaway

Live theatre is a must-have experience and I have found actors who excel in theatre form show talent in making real the illusions. Serious plays can be done with precision using sustained emotions for a long duration, but the challenge remains in bringing out that gaff of laughter.

The latest method of bringing theatre to the television sets of the viewers is an exemplary idea. The fourth wall is broken often to let in the audience to be included in the interaction. Some of the scenes of the plotting Sir Toby makes for some great hand on drunk comedy.

The roles of each character had their unique addition to the play and there was a nice balance in the comic factor. The play spoke for its diversity and easy translation of the source for the local viewership. Now the idea is to transfer the exact same feel-good factor from source to destination language was achieved in the translation.

Yes, while translating it is not possible to make an entire word to word transfer. But if you were to pardon the few hitches and glitches, you will find a version that is far more appealing to the general audience. The finer details of the performance are quite lost with people who are not familiar with the dialect.

But then the progress in the plot easily gets people to enjoy the play without any linguistic knowledge. The whole play gets very playful and light-hearted that at the end of the play you feel that you have seen much of the Hindi street acts.

Loved the Shakespearean Chorus Feel

In the inclusion of Jagratha song and the use of Shakespeare chorus, has been done with great fun and flair. It is very interesting to note that space was also used for breaking the fourth wall with a comic gathering donation. I felt it was the funniest part of the play.

The use of the chorus speaks for the extent of research that has gone into the writing of the play to present in Hindi and its dialect. Theatre is about connecting with the audience at a very active level. I feel the play Piya Behrupiya is an excellent watch to bring back the joy of New Year’s celebration.

Image Source: Netflix Screen Image 

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