Curtain Raiser: True and False

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Curtain Raiser: True and False

Asha Kuthari Chaudhuri | December 15, 2018 15:32 hrs

Sometime in 2016, a dear friend who was also one of the most observant theatre viewers I have ever known expressed in a conversation, a desire to produce a play. A very talented mentalist and theatre person one day came up with a script that he had just adapted. Round one of discussions over, the play looked doable with adequate changes – but Bob Barua, who’d wanted to produce it, was already too unwell to see it through. Two years down, the play is now ready for staging – Bob’s wish made tangible by Pallavi Chumki, his wife and Rohan Das and his team of talented actors. The play: True & False, an adaptation of Rob Drummond’s work is now all set to run on 21-22 December, 2018.

So what is the play about? Why should Guwahati audiences make a bee-line to catch it? GPlus has already raised the bar with the quality of plays it brings to town with Guwahati Theatre Festival – will this homegrown offering match up?

My brief here is very clear: I cannot let the cat out of the bag. Because this play is all about the surprises it throws at you. So let me tantalise. 

In a world of reality shows and 'fake news', what is true and what is false? For those who have enjoyed the Hunger Games series, or watched Big Boss or any other addictive Game Show, this play will be delectable fare. You will enter into this hyperreal 'live' arena where a quizmaster jostles with neurotic participants, camera-ready faces, paste-on smiles and concocted realities. In the quest for true answers, you will never be sure whether you have hit bull’s eye – you will wonder if all of this is just a façade for something else. You will sit on the edge of your seat in tenterhooks – what exactly is going on? You will be surrounded by a strange sense of unease, of déjà vu: something you know but can’t exactly place. At one moment you will lap up a few cheap thrills and cheerfully escape into lala land; at others your stomach will churn. The lines between fact and fiction will no longer be obvious – how will one decide between true and false?  But by now you are already caught in the momentum of the game show, and each answer will reveal something new. Ah well, game on! Let us ask the questions, let the quizmaster take the floor, let the players find the real answers!

A number of talented actors come together after a fair interval to bring to Guwahati its rare English play in several years. The extremely talented Jit Chaliha plays the 60 year old Quiz Master, Brian O’Neill; Ranjeev Lal Barua enacts the role of Irfan Ahmed, a psychiatrist/participant in the show; Neetali Das in the character of Meera Singhania portrays a former quiz show champion and repeat participant; Lima Das plays the lead character of Sandra Braganza, a housewife/participant; and the show’s Production Manager Pratiek Duggal is played by Pratyush Barua. All of these actors have been regulars on the Guwahati stage with the exception of the beautiful Lima Das who is a classical dancer of repute who recently completed her first film (Bhaskar Hazarika’s Aamis) and Pratyush Barua, who has helped to adapt the script of this play. True and False provides a power-packed launch for them. As to the rest, Jit Chaliha has time and again proven his mettle on stage and Ranjeev Lal Barua has consistently performed for the theatre, television and films; he is perhaps one of the better actors around in Guwahati today. Ditto, Neetali Das.

The play is directed by Rohan Kr Das, himself a film and theatre actor, director and mentalist, who would hopefully draw from his unerring love for the genre of the thriller. His role in A Plot for Murder won him rave reviews everywhere, and his directorial ventures – Art for Art’s Sake and The Murder Game won some well deserved critical acclaim.

The producer of True & False is Pallavi Chumki Barua, the wife of Bob (Souvik) Barua and she wears many hats. A practicing advocate with her firm PCB Legalis, she is also a filmmaker, social activist and passionate food connoisseur, besides managing her late husband’s vast business interests. She founded the BOB Barua Benefaction, a trust to carry forward his philanthropic legacy for the uplift of the needy, and all proceeds from the sale of tickets of the play would go to the trust.

This is the play, and this, the team of True and False. So, sit tight folks, going by the early previews, a theatrical treat is in store!

The play will be performed at Pragjyoti ITA Centre on 21st Dec’18 at 3 PM and 22nd Dec’18 at 7 PM and passes are available at – BookMyShow Application, Beatrix, Hotpot, Repose (Bora Service), The Gauhati Club, The India Club and Guwahati Gymkhana Club.

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