Hindu interview with Anand Raghav
Exploring new directions
Playwright Anand Raghav, whose ‘Doosra’ got good reviews, talks about innovation and new themes in Tamil theatre.
Shraddha, the group formed with the aim of presenting Tamil theatre that is novel and different recently presented ‘Doosra’ written and directed by Anand Raghav. Choosing the game of cricket as the theme and tracing the changing face of the sport, the playwright succeeded in bringing freshness into the mainstream Tamil theatre scene.
Anand Raghav is a finance professional who worked in Europe and Thailand before relocating to Bangalore. He developed an interest in the theatre during his college days. The play he wrote for an intercollegiate competition later became the first he staged for a group. The political satire centred on a bandit who becomes the chief minister.
He recounts, “I met Dheepa and her husband Ramanujam initially in Bangkok and we presented short plays there. Then the Ramanujams moved to California and formed the group Krea Creations. ‘Thanimai’ on a man’s conquest over the loneliness of old age was my second play for Krea after ‘Thevai Oru Chief Minister.’ ‘Thanimai’ was very well received, as it was not mere pathos but about realistic acceptance of what life brings you; it was threaded with humour as well.”
Then came ‘Sruti Bhedham’ on an illegitimate daughter’s angst and her desire to become a famous musician like her father.
His best work
The work, staged initially in California and later in Chennai, is considered by him as his best “as it was very intense and focussed.”
‘Doosra’ was commissioned by Shraddha. Here, the writer merged two concepts — an article he had written in Ananda Viketan about street cricket and his short story ‘Suzhal Pandu’ in 2002 on how a scandal had affected the game.
“When you work in theatre, you can constantly innovate and make changes from one performance to another. That gives you scope for improvement,” he says.
“I have formed a group, Paradigm Creation, and am collaborating with the Bangalore-based Fourth Corner Productions to stage ‘Doosra’ in English in Bangalore in April. “My wish is to minimise the gap between mainstream and the parallel theatre,” says Anand Raghav who has published two collections of short stories and a book ‘Ramakien,’ a comparative study of the Indian Ramayana with the Thai and other South-East Asian versions.
“I consider writing short stories more challenging then writing plays,” he adds.
His favourite character in ‘Doosra’ is that of the father played by Delhi Ganesh “It is based on my idol, G.R. Vishwanath, who was both talented and principled,” says the writer. His next play for Shraddha will deal with live-in relationships.
Anand Raghav has won several awards for his short stories, the latest being ‘Chadurangam’ selected as the year’s best short story by Ilakiya Chinthanai.