'The Dying Song': A tale of intriguing sexual relationship through music
A tale of evoking music and intriguing sexual relationship celebrates a lost tradition of Indian music in the form of a play 'The Dying Song,' to be staged at London's prestigious Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, Sunday, 29th June. The play, later, will be be turned into a feature film.
'The Dying Song' traces the untold stories of those who are neither men nor women but have existed in the Indian society for hundreds of years. The play weaves a story of unique sexual fantasy as well as frustration, alongside music that arouses emotions as well as sacrifice. It's intriguing and challenging, say critics who have seen the play in York and Gateshead.
Interspersed with the Indian classical form of singing 'Thumri', the play produced by Asian Music Circuit pays rich tributes to India's androgynous- neither man nor woman- community. For some, they are just 'Eunuchs'. But in the play, they are the sacrificing protagonists in the role of Suraiya.
'The Dying Song,' directed and adapted by Sangeeta Dutta in English from renowned Marathi writer CT Khanolkar's novella 'Devyachi Ayee,' features India's celebrated exponent of thumri and kathak, Bireshwar Gautam, who plays the androgynous singer Suraiya Jaan in the play.
"The Dying song is a tribute to the androgynous artist with a nod to the long heritage of female impersonation in Indian Folk Theatre. Our Suraiya embodies many of these ideas and is a direct product of the Theatre/Performance world. Inspirations for me were the voices of Begum Akhtar, Shubha Gurtu, Girija Devi; the play Begum Bharve, the films The Music Room, The Chess Players (dir. Satyajit Ray), Umrao Jaan (dir. Muzaffar Ali) and Pakeezah (dir. Kamal Amrohi)," says the UK-based director of the play Sangeeta Dutta, who is also a documentary filmmaker and film historian. Later, she plans to make a film based on 'The Dying Song'.
Synopsis & Cast: In a crumbling haveli of the Indian city of Bhopal live a mysterious thumri singer Suraiyya (Bireshwar Gautam) and her daughter Champa (Pratima Chatterjee of Tanushree Dance group, Calcutta). When Anand (Rajesh Joshi of BBC Hindi Service)- a new lecturer in the local college- falls in love with Champa, he realises much to his shock that Suraiyya is neither a woman nor man. So how could she be Champa's mother? When confronted, Suraiyya claims she is the wife of a thumri lover Nawab (Pervaiz Alam of iefilmi.com and former BBC journalist) and Champa, indeed, is her daughter.
Accompaniments: Murad Ali (Sarangi), Hanif Khan (Tabla) and Soumik Dutta (Sarod).