“Sutradhar” artfully flows a Mahabharata prequel on Opening Night, Dubai

{Sanjeev Dixit and Shereen Saifudeen, thank you for chatting with #nikitalyfe about your play’s Opening Night!}

“Sutradhar” presents the drama of high-stakes political gambling against a backdrop of marriage alliances and war negotiations with an arsenal of Dubai talent. Drawing inspiration from the masks of ancient Greek tragedies, emotions of Indian natyashastra and even including musical timbres from Japanese Noh percussion and flutists, writer and director Sanjeev Dixit of Third Half Theatre truly makes his play a sensory experience.

“I wanted to break the idea that the Mahabharata is only an Indian tale,” said Sanjeev, as the cast mingled with the audience outside The Junction after the show.

The directors past experiences with musical productions shine through with elements of classic Indian dance to punctuate the show.

“The audience was a great mix [of cultures] and it was a great turn-out tonight — I hope they all enjoyed!” laughed the director. “I think first night went brilliantly well — first night is so so so stressful, oh my god! I was really chuffed after the first act: it just flowed like water and to see the audience completely immersed in the play was such a wonderful feeling.”

And the play truly did flow. When the cast took a ten-minute intermission, my friend and I were surprised to find that we were already halfway through the two-hour production.

Sutradhar poster
Link to Platinumlist Dubai tickets at the base!

One of “Sutradhar’s” crowning glories is its way of representing the emotions of the royal characters. Forced into silence by the tense diplomacy and kingly egos at play, the prince (played by Kuv Sharma) and princess’ (played by Shereen Saifudeen) of the besieged kingdom endure a barrage of turbulent emotions which are voiced by the whispers, chanting and fluid movements of the ensemble cast surrounding the royal character in question. The impact of their masked faces coupled with the undertones of noh drums, adds to the dramatic tension and subtext of every scene.

Sutradhar cast list
Break a leg for the rest of the weekend’s shows, cast!

“Everything leads up to this show, and there’s a different type of energy that gets on when you actually start the performance on stage,” said Shereen Saifudeen, who plays the kingdom’s princess. “Sanjeev has tried a lot of different things with the music and movement of the play, working with inspirations from across the globe. I grew up knowing about my legendary character [Shereen requested we don’t reveal her eventual Mahabharata role, readers!] but I enjoyed thinking about her backstory and why she took the stance she did in the later Indian epic battle.”

As the final plot twist revealed its connection to the later opening of the Mahabharata, I definitely felt myself re-thinking who the real masterminds and instigators of the epic battle were.

Sutradhar scene
Assyl Yacine as the King and Hamza Merchant as Mantri on stage

“I wrote this play because I wanted to work on stories from Indian culture, especially the Mahabharata which is very close to me. I have done plays in the past about it but they were more musical, so I wanted to tell a proper play that opened to a multicultural audience – which is what we have in Dubai – and still make the story resonate,” finished Sanjeev.

“Sutradhar” will be playing at The Junction on Alserkal Avenue, Dubai from November 15-17 2018. I definitely recommend getting to the theatre in advance to grab good seats as the doors open fifteen minutes before and it’s free-seating. You can book your show tickets here! 🙂

Sutradhar curtain
Director and writer, Sanjeev Dixit thanks the audience after the talented cast & crew takes a bow

Until next time, keep exploring! xoxo #nikitalyfe ❤

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Author: Nikita Taimni

A Dubai-based blogger, I write about travel, theatre and lifestyle in the cities I explore around the world. Follow me on Instagram @nikitalyfe and follow via email if you enjoy reading my posts!

3 thoughts

  1. As usual you make every piece you write a very interesting read, Nikita !
    Enjoyed going through this. Hope I get to see this play sometime in the near future !


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