In 2014, Richa Nagar collaborated with the Mumbai-based actor and director, Tarun Kumar, to organize through Parakh Theatre, an intensive political theater workshop in the Yari Road area of Mumbai. The six-month long workshop brought together 20 people to grapple with issues of caste, class, gender, and religion through a focus on Hindi and Urdu fiction and culminated in Hansa, Karo Puratan Baat, based on a theatrical adaptation and collective reinterpretation of Munshi Premchand’s last short story, Kafan (The Shroud) and instilling it with the poetic and political sensibilities of Kabir’s work. The workshop participants were migrants to Mumbai from rural areas of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka and Gujarat, with half of them identifying as Sawarna, and the other half identifying as Dalit, Dalit Muslim, OBC(other backward caste), or Adivasi. Although most of them are trying to build careers in Mumbai’s film industry, five provide domestic help in the homes of film and television artists. Under Tarun Kumar’s direction, the participants worked through continuous embodied improvisations of the story based on their own journeys and experiences and provided fresh perspective to the debates surrounding this story.
Click here to view the final performance, recorded in Mumbai on December 27, 2014.