Bikram Ghosh

Arts Practice

Grant Period: Five months

Bikram Ghosh is a Delhi based actor, director, playwright and stage-manager. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Jadavpur University, Kolkata. He is a co-founder of The Tadpole Repertory, a theatre group based in Delhi. He has worked with the Shakespeare in Schools project and was a programme officer with The First City Theatre Foundation; co-founded and managed The Medicine Show, a late night variety show in New Delhi; and was the founder and coordinator of The Looking Glass Project that offers theatre workshops to people of all ages. He has also worked with children in various theatre workshops including at the The Shri Ram School, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Rishi Valley School, Wisdom World School and others. He currently directs NDLS, a sketch comedy by Tadpole Repertory, and performs in various plays created by Tadpole and other theatre groups.

Bikram will direct Tadpole’s new play Rakshas, a Hindi adaptation by Irawati Karnik, of Russian playwright Yevgeny Schwarz’s The Dragon. The original play of 1934 is written in a Soviet fairy-tale form. A travelling knight arrives at a small town under the despotic rule of a dragon for several hundred years. When the knight offers to liberate the town by killing the Dragon, many of the businessmen and politicians of the town are against the idea. They say it would cause chaos and place the town in greater jeopardy. Eventually, the knight kills the dragon but disappears after being grievously injured in the fight. He returns a year later to discover the corrupt and powerful has recaptured power in the ‘free city’. He is disgusted by the turn of events but realises that it isn’t enough to kill dragons, but it takes time to kill the dragon inside each and every person.

This adaptation will be reducing the length of the play and altering its context to relate to contemporary India. It is being designed as a lightweight, durable and cost-effective mobile spectacle to be performed with limited cast and crew, adaptable to unconventional spaces. It is primarily intended for Hindi-speaking audiences of all ages. The play aims to deal with self-determination, relationship of individuals with the world, and living contently with love. The production will attempt to challenge notions of human agency, gender, power, narrative, and collective action. It will use illusions of light and colour, masks, materials theatre, shadow-play, interactive costuming, unconventional seating, self-made instruments and choral singing to create the idea of fantasy in the form. The language of the play will be a myriad combination of spoken-Hindi from urban areas in the north, deconstructing the assumed homogeneity of the language.

This will be Bikram’s first attempt at directing a Hindi language play. As a group, they have mostly performed in Anglophone, urban theatre spaces so far. They plan to step out of their ‘comfort zone’ with this play. It will be interesting to see how this experiment works out for them. From IFA’s point of view, this play is important as it asks questions of the current political and social context of the country, while pushing artistic boundaries of performance that is specific to this group. Their plan seems well thought out. The budget of the complete project is slightly higher than what IFA’s programme allows. The group will raise the extra funds needed from other sources. The outcome of the project will be the play. A translated script, a PDF document of the rehearsal process, publicity material, a media dossier and video recording of the performance will be deposited as deliverables.