Director's Note: Boiled Beans on Toast

Sindu Singh (PC: Ashima Yadava Photography)

Sindu Singh (PC: Ashima Yadava Photography)


Just a few weeks before the world of film and theater lost one of its legends - literary giant, consummate playwright, fearless activist and a model human being, Girish Karnad, I had written to him to seek his permission to stage Boiled Beans on Toast. He replied within minutes, graciously granting us rights and characteristically refusing to charge us any royalties since we were a small non-profit. His last words to me were 'More power to your elbow!' which brought a chuckle when I read them. Just those five words told me that he got what it took to run a little theatre company fighting hard to put up plays based on social justice themes. He understood. Like no one could.

I had been blessed to direct Wedding Album, another play of his, a couple of years ago. At the time, despite not knowing us from Adam, he had responded with the same promptness, grace and kindness. Long after it had been staged, I reached out to him for help getting connected to Mahesh Elkunchwar for rights to Sonata. He not only put us in touch, but followed up with Maheshji when we weren't hearing back and assured us that he was away from Nagpur, had received our messages and would be writing to us upon his return. That led to a beautiful, fruitful relationship with Maheshji that continues to this day. And that wasn't all. He then helped us establish contact with Vijay Tendulkar's estate for rights to Kanyadaan, though he had to do some digging on his end to find Tendulkar's daughter's coordinates. His generosity of spirit and willingness to bend over backwards time and again for us was simply stunning. On each occasion, he epitomized to me what it means to be a true theatre person. For him, theatre was clearly worship and he nurtured a devotion to it that extended far beyond the confines of stardom, standing and status. And for that I will hero worship the man for the rest of my personal and professional life.

When the devastating news that he had passed away broke, I was deep in the trenches of content creation for my upcoming project, Afsaaney - Our Stories. I wasn't scheduled to direct Boiled Beans until Spring 2020. My firstborn was about to leave for a boarding school in Japan and I had no intention of directing a script of this complexity involving a large cast in the midst of my own emotional upheaval. It would require a herculean effort to do justice to the beauty and nuances in the myriad plots and subplots within the script in such a short time. But there was no question. In my heart, I knew I had to pay homage to my idol. Not six months from now. It had to be now. And so it came to pass with the unflinching support of my Co-Artistic Director, the inimitable Basab Pradhan, my incredible stage manager, Vasudha Hegde, and a dedicated, hard working cast that I was deeply blessed to work with. Despite the enormous demands I placed on them, they held my hand every step of the difficult way these past few months. I cannot thank them enough and submit this humble offering as a tribute to my hero, Girish Karnad. May his soul rest in peace.

– Sindu Singh

Basab Pradhan