‘Piya Behrupiya’: This adaptation of William Shakespeare’s ‘Twelfth Night’ comes to Pune to say goodbye after 11 years


The seats are filling up fast as Piya Behrupiya, a play that became a cultural phenomenon, embarks on its final tour after 11 years of entertaining packed halls. After being staged in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, it will be shown at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hall in Pune on July 22.

“It is an emotional moment. People come up to me and say they have watched it 16 to 18 times. At Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai, where we began the final run, people were saying the dialogues before the actors and preempting the jokes,” says Mumbai-based director Atul Kumar of The Company Theatre.

An adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, told in the north Indian folk form of ‘nautanki’, Piya Behrupiya premiered at Globe to Globe Festival in London during the 2012 Olympics. The cast, comprising stalwarts such as Sagar Deshmukh, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Mansi Multani and Amitosh Nagpal, has remained the same till now.

The merry story is of the lovelorn Count Orsino, the cross-dressing Viola and Lady Olivia, who is mourning her brother, and a shipwreck that creates waves of its own. It is packed with around 18 songs, including a scene in which two characters trade insults to the beats of a qawwali.

The play did not only bring the public into theatres at various places — such as Kerala, Puducherry, Kolkata, Srinagar, Bareilly and Bhopal — it also won awards like Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards and was staged at prestigious festivals.

twelfth night adaptation

Among the most internationally travelled performances from the country, it was staged in Canada, France, Serbia, Australia, China and Taiwan. In Chile, it had a seven-city tour, which included a show in a bullfighting rink to an audience of around 50,000.

Shakespeare’s story deals with several unsettling issues, but Piya Behrupiya focuses on the celebration of love. “We believed in the power of love and the importance of spreading love. I don’t think I was politically very aware at that time,” says Kumar, whose recent works are several shades darker and deeply involved with the social and political challenges of the country.

“The performers have become award-winning actors in the last 11 years, and it has become difficult for us to get dates. I had to cancel nearly 15 shows in the last year-and-a-half,” says Kumar.

character piya beherupiya Express photo

His daughter, who was six when the play opened, used to present a dance. Now 17 years old, she sits in on rehearsals and advises her father to push the envelope further.

Three months ago, Piya Behrupiya was invited to perform at a state-run arts festival in St Petersburg, Moscow, which the director turned down a few days ago. “It was a decision that I took after a struggle due to the war (between Russia and Ukraine),” says Kumar.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous Post

Parties begin blame game as violence takes centre stage in West Bengal panchayat polls

Next Post

‘I Said Niche Gir Jayegi…’

Related Posts