By A Correspondent
New Delhi: Bestselling author Sreemoyee Piu Kundu’s latest novel CUT has been chosen this year as the final year performance text at the National School of Drama to be performed as a series of shows, commencing on January 25 at 6.30 pm.
CUT will be directed by acclaimed theatre director Abhilash Pillai. Abhilash has trained under the Thrissur School of Drama and has a deep interaction with the “Theatre of the Roots” movement. He has studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. His last work at the NSD, where he also teaches, was Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.
Speaking about his experience of adapting CUT, Abhilash said, “While reading this novel, I felt it would be quite an interesting and exciting text to explore in theatre. CUT offered a multilayered narration technique which brings to fore the seemingly simple life of a theatrewallah fraught with vicissitudes against the backdrop of our very own milieu that is modern Indian theatre. In each act, Sreemoyee has carefully attempted to pen each and every act with diverse layers of human relationships in its natural way, sans hiding the truth. This book is especially special for theatre people as the entire story revolves around the life of a theatre thespian, his artistic journey, that was ideologically uncompromising. His passion and commitment towards the medium, and, at the same time, life sketches of theatre acquaintances who were attracted by the glamor of the film industry and his relations with them. Migration of theatre artists to Bollywood is one of the stark realities of the medium that CUT authentically portrays. Even as CUT is a fictional novel, it narratively engages the reader and one can finish it one go, and therein lies its rare brilliance. Above all, this book is written in acts that gives the reader a feel of reading a new kind of play.”
Set in a world of government censure and ruthless stifling of anyone who questions their ways, CUT is a posthumous look at the personal and professional life of a visionary theatre artist and political activist.
Would he be considered an ‘Urban Naxal’ today or remembered as a fearless agent who fought resiliently for social change? Did he and those close to him have to pay the price for their voices to be heard?
Told in disparate voices, CUT explores commitment to artistic integrity and art as a platform for social reform against all odds, even when it becomes a question of survival.
Talking about her artistic jugalbandhi with Abhilash, Sreemoyee added, “I was first introduced to director Abhilash Pillai through my dear friend, actor Adil Hussain who also belongs to NSD and often teaches there. Being a novel on theatre, Adil was instantly attracted to the towering protagonist, Amitabh Kulashreshtra and visualised it on stage. He was sure Abhilash would do justice. Abhilash and I spent many afternoons at the NSD in his cabin, discussing the myriad layers of the plot, the characters and the medium of theatre as a whole. However, our initial dialogues were brought to a standstill when I started work on Status Single, my last work, which involved a lengthy research and interview span with over 3,000 single, urban Indian women, and, Abhilash went on to fulfil his commitment with other projects. But, his commitment towards CUT and his appreciation of the play, remained unchanged. It is my honour that he is today directing CUT which premieres at the prestigious National School of Drama, on January 25. CUT in more ways than one is an ode to the lights and darkness of the stage and those, like Amitabh Kulashreshtra who devote their entire life to its varying vicissitudes. CUT could not have had a better platform.”
About the author:
Sreemoyee Piu Kundu is an acclaimed journalist and columnist on gender and sexuality. She wrote Faraway Music, her first novel, in 2013, followed by her bestselling feminist erotica, Sita’s Curse, which explored female desire through the eyes of a Gujarati housewife. You’ve Got the Wrong Girl, her third work of fiction, a light-hearted rom-com, broke new ground in Indian ‘lad-lit’. In 2017, she wrote her first non-fiction work, the widely-appreciated and critically acclaimed Status Single, a narrative drawing from the lives of 3000 urban Indian single women, about the daily struggle of being single in a country where the highest validation for women remains marriage and motherhood.
Sreemoyee is the recipient of the NDTV L’Oréal Women of Worth award for Excellence in Literature. She has been signed up for her memoirs, Bad Blood, to be published by Bloomsbury and has just completed an inter-generational family saga, All Our Other Lies, set in Kolkata. Sreemoyee is single and lives between New Delhi and Kolkata.