Thursday, January 14, 2021

Republic Day Treat for Theatre Lovers: Aadyam presents Bandish 20-20,000Hz

A musical tale that depicts the struggles of artists since days of history lasting until now, Bandish 20-20,000Hz focuses on a figurative comparison between the lives of artists from the pre-independence era with times contemporary. Shubha Mudgal's soul stirring music brings the play to life as does the laudable performance of the actors

‘Bandish’ is a homonym that means being bound, but in the context of Hindustani vocal or instrumental music - it means composition. Aadyam’s next and final masterpiece of their Digital Edition, Bandish 20-20,000Hz, intertwines these two contrasting meanings of the word, chronicling the journey of yesteryear artistes set against the backdrop of a function commemorating 70 years of India's Independence. In essence, the play crusades through a musical path while also showing audiences how artists have been bound in more ways than one through history to this day. Be it social media trolls, threats, political bans or social exclusions, artistes have always faced various kinds of 'Bandish' and that is what this play beautifully highlights, all with a touch of humor, emotion and musical interludes. Being launched on 26th January, the play rightly sets the tone for a patriotic Republic Day celebration.

Directed by Purva Naresh, Bandish 20-20000Hz, was first showcased in 2017 as the country celebrated 70 years of independence. It is a story of two singers, one a nautanki singer and the other a baithak (classical) singer. Both performers come face to face in the green room before the Independence day function, relive their glory days and have witty anecdotes to share. Anecdotes of escapes from kings’ palaces, slapping British officers, getting kidnapped by the local zamindars, and refuting lovelorn Nawabs. Each anecdote is accompanied by a musical and a dance number, and is an exploration into time and seeing things with a revived and perhaps revised perspective. 

The story that thrives on its foot-tapping yet meaningful melodies takes a turn as the male heartthrob of the nation gets banned on social media for an 'anti-national' performance. What happens next is what forms the plot of the play. 

Director Purva Naresh says, "I am really happy that the shows have beens scheduled around republic day. Bandish means a musical composition as well as restrictions and what better time to explore "Bandish" in the context of freedom and Republic Day. 

Is it 74 years really? When did we truly get Independence? When the British announced it or when we gained our constitution? 

The question is asked by the wisest fool in the play-Munnu!! This coming Republic Day would be an ideal day to watch this musical exploration of what is freedom. I dare say it might be the most fun and musical manner to get to know Independence through Shubha Mudgals lovely compositions including charkha chala chala kay, Quaifi Azmis Nukoosh - e Hasrat , Naresh Saxena's Bidesia and Gulab Bais  risque Mai hoon tori charpai....." 

Artistic Director of Aadyam, Shernaz Patel says, "Purva Naresh when interviewed a few years ago had said "Artistes always have to suffer throughout history”. This statement is as true for the protagonists of Bandish as it is for artists around the world struggling to make ends meet during this pandemic. Yet, ironically, throughout history it is art that has nourished our souls. Look at all of us guzzling entertainment through this lockdown. Not just consuming it, but also finding ways to express our inner creativity - taking up artistic hobbies, keeping a diary or simply listening to music…even challenging ourselves with a new recipe (also a form of creative expression). So for me, while steeped in nostalgia, Bandish wonderfully makes us reflect on the present. Added to that is a haunting score by the supremely talented Shubha Mudgal; Purva’s incredible command over language, poetic and yet so witty – she really knows how to tell a good story; brilliant singing and performances by all the actors and a rich, luxurious production design. This is truly a piece of theatre that works wonderfully for the digital medium, especially when it is shot the way all Aadyam plays are – respecting the theatricality of the performance, yet pushing the boundaries of possibility that this new hybrid medium offers". 

The illustrious cast - Anubha Fatehpuria, Danish Hussain, Harsh Khurana, Hitesh Bhojraj, Ipshita Singh Chakraborty and Nivedita Bhargava essay their roles with an earnest passion and verve as Shubha Mudgal renders her musical prowess to the play. Performed and recorded live in an empty auditorium to adhere to the government's 'Bandish', the play also evokes emotions of patriotism with its melodious dedication to Gandhi on his death anniversary. 

Watch the play on's online streaming service on 26th, 30th and 31st of January 2021.

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