Muse of Fusion

Originally broadcast in the UK on March 22nd 1999


A play for radio written by Tanika Gupta
Director: Kristine Landon-Smith

Parminder plays Zabeen


Synopsis:


Firoz is a talented DJ in the burgeoning Bhangra music scene. He 'fuses' poetry with the sounds of the Asian underground and is a leading light in an exploding club culture.

After suffering a serious accident Firoz retreats into himself and the isolation of his room. His sister, Zabeen, is desperate to rescue her brother from his demons and return to fulfill his vocation as an important gig looms on the horizon...

 


Krishna's Lila - A play of the Asian world

Performances at the Leicester Haymarket Theatre in September 1999

Written by Vaiya Naidu
Director: Nona Shepphard


Synopsis:

A visiting stranger influences and ultimately transforms the lives of the members of a remote community. The production was a dramatic transposition of J M Synge's controversial early twentieth century work, 'The Playboy of the Western world' and made headlines even before 'curtain up' on it's opening night.

PNO notes: 

A cast of just five actors included Nitin Ganatra, who appeared with Parminder in 'Second Generation' and 'The Square Circle' and Harvey Virdi who played Teetu's mother in 'Bend it like Beckham'.
 
Parminder returned to her home town to perform in a piece commissioned and produced by the Leicester Haymarket Theatre. The production proved to be controversial and it's original title had to be changed before opening.
The following BBC piece summarized the concerns expressed by members of the local Hindu community:

South Asia Play Upsets Krishna Devotees

A British theatre has been forced to change the title of a production about the Hindu god Lord Krishna after complaints of blasphemy from the local Hindu community.

The Leicester Haymarket Theatre was due to put on a production called Krishna Lila - Playboy of the Asian world, but the title has now been changed to Krishna's Lila - A play of the Asian world.

It has been planned to show the production about Lord Krishna to coincide with an adaption of The Playboy of the Western World, a play written by the Irish playwright J M Synge.

'Inappropriate' terminology

According to the theatre, its adaption of the Asian version, written by its artistic associate, Vaiyu Naidu, herself Hindu, centres on the historic and mythological character of Krishna, and his endeavours to show his human struggle to conquer ignorance and oppression.

Some members of the local Hindu community in Leicester have been infuriated by the use of the word playboy. One of the city's five Hindu councillors, Sakarlal Gajjar, has said that Krishna is not a playboy and to call him one is an insult to Hinduism.

Harish Purohit from the Federation of Hindu priests in Leicester has also protested at the name.

He says that the term is inappropriate to describe Lord Krishna.

"It might be correct according to the thinkers in the Haymarket Theatre and people who wrote this play, but we have to also make sure about what messages we are giving out to people at large," says Mr Purohit.

He says that if you ask the majority of people about their understanding of the word "playboy", it is not heroic and charismatic.

Theatre apologises

The theatre has apologised for the use of the word in the original title of the adaption. It says that in the context of the original Irish play, the word describes a man who is heroic. However, it appreciates that a different interpretation has been made
.

The controversy follows world wide protests to remove chanting from the sacred Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita in a sex scene from the recently-released Hollywood film 'Eyes Wide Shut'.

by South Asia analyst Tanuja Solanki, September 15th 1999


Review:

Leicester Mercury, Wednesday, September 29th, 1999

"Call it a success, whatever its name" - Krishna's Lila - A Play of the Asian World -- Leicester Haymarket Theatre

"Bosses at Leicester Haymarket were forced to change the name of this play from Krishna's Lila The Playboy of the Asian World to A Play of the Asian World before it had even opened, due to complaints about an alleged lack of respect to Krishna.

"Given that the play on which this production is based, JM Synge's The Playboy of the Western World, provoked riots over its alleged lack of sympathy to the Irish when it opened in 1907, it wasn't surprising that some reaction was provoked.

"What was surprising, however, was that the story in this new adaptation, directed by Nona Shepphard and adapted by Haymarket artistic associate Dr Vayu Naidu, crossed cultural boundaries so well.

"The set from the Irish production was slightly revamped to give it a more Indian feel. Removing the Irish dialect actually made the piece easier to follow, and the smaller cast made it more cohesive.

"Just five performers (Parminder Nagra, Nitin Ganatra, Rez Kempton, Harvey Virdi and Kriss Donanjh) presented the tale of a mysterious stranger who turns up in an isolated community, affecting the lives of all he comes in contact with.

"The first act took a while to find its pace, but there were laughs a-plenty in the second act and the piece was well-received by the predominantly Asian audience.

"A success all round."

by Lizz Brain

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