Circa 1978. At Indira Gandhi's residence in Delhi. That's me in ponytails standing in the front looking anywhere except at the camera.
A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. This one was taken just after the Emergency – one of the darkest periods in modern Indian political history – had been lifted. At a time when Indira Gandhi and her party had taken a beating in the elections that followed and her popularity was at an all time low. A time when the country was filled with uncertainty and the ideals of democracy espoused by the Gandhian freedom fighters had severely and brutally been put to the test. Kanyadaan is set in the period preceding those difficult years. In an era where there were still those great idealistic politicians of the protagonist Nath Devlalikar's ilk. Many of them had become disillusioned with the Congress and had migrated to the Socialist party because they believed in fighting for a progressive, just, equal society that was devoid of the scourge of untouchability and casteism.
While the plot centers on the theme of Nath's idealism and his quest to bring about larger societal change by promoting equality in his own home, what drew me to this play and truly appealed to me as a director was the deeply personal human story that emerges. Of a father and a daughter. Of that unspoken hero worship that starts for a little girl long before she even becomes aware of it. Jyoti, the female protagonist in the story, is that daughter. The apple of her father's eye. There is a beauty and simplicity to their relationship that slowly unravels as the play progresses until it leads to an ending that is shockingly unexpected, gut wrenching and shakes one to the core. It is a testament to Tendulkar's mastery that he seamlessly weaves a story that can at times be touching, funny, and at other times cruel and disturbing within the context of larger questions about nationalism and progress.
Between me and my late father, there was a bond that cannot be described in words. There was unbounded affection and love. But there was also immense respect and sheer awe. Of his intellect. His vast repertoire of knowledge. His principles. His ideals. The manner in which he chose to live his life with honor and integrity. It made me want to be like him. In every way. To live up to that impossible standard. To make him proud. Only now, more than two years after his passing, am I even becoming aware of the influence he had on me. As I begin to wake up to it and as I try to make sense of it through what's left of my own memories, I'm stunned by how complex this father-daughter relationship which I took for granted all my life, truly is. I see it developing and evolving even between my own ten-year-old daughter and her father. And as I try to do justice to this story in its telling, I find myself digging deep into that reservoir of personal stories and often brace myself for the impact of the overwhelming emotions that come tumbling out. I would like to dedicate this production to my father. And to fathers and daughters everywhere.
– Sindu Singh
Idealist Politician. An oxymoron, if there ever was one. An unstable equilibrium. Like a funnel standing on its narrow end. The gentlest of nudges and it falls down. But against the odds, Nath Devlalikar, the character I play, is very much an idealist politician.
Nath is a politician, albeit not a very successful one. His Socialist Party has no chance of ever coming to power in Maharashtra. But Nath is undoubtedly an idealist. Uncompromising on the democratic principles and Gandhian credo that he lives by. Until, of course, he does compromise, for the sake of his daughter. Which is the heart of the play.
An idealist politician. They don’t make them like that anymore. Perhaps that is why Tendulkar set the play in the early 70’s (even though he wrote it in 1983) and made Nath a former freedom fighter. When our freedoms are taken for granted, politics becomes less about ideals and more about gaining and holding on to power.
- Basab Pradhan
Kanyadaan is playing at Sunnyvale Theatre from April 13 to 28.
Swagato Basumallick's clicks from our Cast Photo Shoot.
"Given half a chance, the oppressed become the oppressors, the murdered become the murderers. There is no guarantee that experience leads to goodness in man. In fact he can become an even greater devil."
– Jayaprakash in Kanyadaan
There is no manual on how to live a good life.
Jayaprakash is the son of Nath Devalalikar, a freedom fighter and political leader. He has been brought up with the ideals of a principled Gandhian. These ideals are stretched to a breaking point when Jayaprakash’s sister Jyoti’s life is thrown in turmoil.
Kanyadaan, by Vijay Tendulkar, is a powerful story of how idealism often disintegrates when it comes into contact with reality. The play is directed by Sindu Singh. You won’t want to miss it!
The uber-talented Shekhar Hemnani has been associated with our theatre company ever since we started out in 2014.
Shekhar has been the creative genius behind the promo films for almost all our plays. He has this uncanny ability of taking a brief narration of the plot and central theme of an upcoming production – and then, just like that, coming up with a brilliant idea about how to best capture the essence in a short promo video. And off we go from there! Shekhar manages the creative process from the concept, to the shoot, to editing, to the final product that emerges, which always manages to leave us in awe.
A collection of the promos Shekhar has filmed for us is featured on our YouTube channel here. If you've been a regular patron, it is a nice trip down memory lane. If not, you'll get a feel for the kind of theatre we do through Shekhar's lens.
Shekhar is also a writer. A poet. And a music lover. For our adaptation of Ibsen's A Doll's House, he penned the beautiful lyrics to Koi Nazm Nahin, which was set to mesmerizing music by the Aalap Desai and sung by our own Sindu Singh. You can listen to the song here. He talks about Koi Nazm Nahin in the video embedded below.
Shekhar is the founder of Mausaki, a musical organization that counts Sufi, Hindustani and Western Classical, Jazz, Rock and Hip hop among its influences. Mausaki regularly organizes fantastic collaborations of music and poetry in the Bay Area showcasing local and international talent. He and his wife Rubina also run Arthrang, a lifestyle apparel brand. All this, with a day job at Oracle as Principal Product Manager and a one-year-old at home. Phew! Like we said, he is one multi-talented guy.
We are deeply grateful to Shekhar for all the amazing work he has done for us and look forward to a continued fruitful artistic partnership in the years to come.
Written by Vijay Tendulkar
Directed by Sindu Singh
Kanyadaan is Vijay Tendulkar’s explosive take on class conflict and idealism, for which he received both high honors and brickbats, including having footwear thrown at him. In his characteristic manner, the controversial playwright said this of the fierily mixed response to the play – "As its creator, I respect both verdicts."
Kanyadaan explores what happens when lofty ideals of equality clash with the nuances and complexities of harsh reality.
Performances: April 13 - 28, 2018 at Sunnyvale Theatre, 550 E. Remington Dr., Sunnyvale.
Auditions will be held Saturday, January 27th starting at 10 am in Belmont. Please see instructions below on how to sign up. An appointment is required.
Jyoti – Female, 20s to very early 30s
Arun – Male, Late 20s to early 30s
Jayprakash – Male, 20s to early 30s
**All Roles require South Asian actors with Indian accents.**
Please click here to fill out the audition form. You will receive a confirmation email with a specific time-slot. Prepare a 2 minute dramatic monologue which shows a range of emotions and includes movement. If shortlisted, you will be provided with sides from the play and called back the same afternoon.
Rehearsals begin Sunday, January 28, 2017. All rehearsals will be held at our studio in Belmont. Technical rehearsals (mandatory and non-negotiable dates) will be held 5 pm – 11 pm on April 11th and 12th at Sunnyvale Theatre.
For all questions, please email email@example.com.
We will be hosting a play reading of Kanyadaan at our studio in Belmont on Friday, January 26 at 7:30 pm.
If you'd like to be part of the cast or if you're interested in joining the production team, this is a great opportunity to get familiar with the play ahead of auditions. Others are welcome too.
If you are new to readings, here's what to expect - we assign roles to those in attendance and read the play together from beginning to end. Afterwards, we discuss the story, plot and characters. Some of you would like to participate in the reading. Others may just choose to sit in and listen. Either is fine. All who are interested are welcome.
Space is limited and an RSVP is required to attend. Please click below to RSVP. You will receive a confirmation email with details regarding venue/parking/format, etc.
For all questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A die hard loyalist. One who unquestioningly and reverently serves her company. Whose mission is to put her work first and let nothing get in its way. As the head of Internal IT at the largest tech company in India, things are going brilliantly well for Chitra Mathur as her career trajectory soars, until one fateful moment when a hacker brings things to a screeching halt. Overnight, Chitra's 18 years of struggle, commitment, toil and hard-earned credibility are brought into question. She has let down not just her company but the man whose respect she has hoped to earn for nearly two decades. There is only one option. She will hunt down that miserable hacker. She will not rest till she restores Rao's faith and mends hers and the company's reputations, both of which lie in tatters.
Having had the privilege of playing some formidable characters in the past, Chitra was a challenge for me on several levels. The role, while important to the crux of the play, was a small one with little stage time and limited scope for high drama. But what appealed to me about it was that it required a great deal of restraint and subtlety. My Chitra abhors showmanship, prefers to let her work speak for her and has risen up through the ranks of the famous Ingenius meritocracy the old fashioned way- through sheer grit and hard work. She is tough as nails, focused, introverted, and prides herself in not showing emotion in the male-dominated world of Bangalore IT executives. She is also brutally ambitious and worships her CEO – having come from humble beginnings herself, he represents to her the ultimate success story. Someone who built a multi-billion dollar enterprise not by inheritance, entitlement or handouts, but purely with his own blood and sweat. She is at times deferential and apologetic and completely willing to accept responsibility for her mistakes, but she is in equal measure supremely confident in her convictions, implicitly trusts her own capabilities and is unafraid even to butt heads with her boss Murali in front of Rao if needed. And when she puts her mind to something, she is a force of nature – determined, unstoppable.
Will she succeed in setting things right at Ingenius? Will this unfortunate incident with massive repercussions bring down the IT giant, stain her career for good and ultimately define her legacy? Come watch the last show of Not Equal To and find out.
The original music for Not Equal To was composed by two gifted musicians – Pranav Jhumkhawala and Naren Pradhan. After our shows in December, several audience members asked us if we could share the music. Here it is, below. Or, listen to it on SoundCloud.
We're thrilled to announce that we are back with one more performance of our hit corporate thriller set in the tech industry. Not Equal To will return to stage on Sunday, January 21st at 2 pm in Sunnyvale Theatre.
So if you missed it in December, here's your last chance to see the play that everyone is raving about.
Audiences were rapturous in their praise of this edge-of-your-seat thriller about corporate intrigue and inequality! Take a look at what they said. If you've already seen the play, do your friends a favor. Post about it on social media. Send them to see this last show. They'll thank you.
Photos from the performances in December are here. Tickets for the upcoming show are available for purchase here.
Not Equal To is another great play by BAD (Bay Area Drama)! Too real for comfort! Basab, great job writing, directing, and acting! Sindu, super production and fantastic performance as always!
- Simonil Kakalia
Wonderful Show! Riveting and suspenseful!
- Devin Ligtelyn
We very much enjoyed your play. The multiple story lines kept us engaged and on edge about what was coming next. Thank you for sharing your passion.
- Eric Fajardo
Don’t miss this one. It’s an original play written by the immensely talented Basab Pradhan. The cast is fantastic and the production absolutely flawless.
- Dhira Ramakrishnan
It was a great story, relevant to not just the Indian diaspora but to everyone wondering about issues like fairness and inequality of access, and privilege.
- Anshu Sharma
Bay Area Drama Company’s latest play Not Equal To is simply brilliant. From the wickedly real candor of the script to the engaging narration of it thru superb performances by the cast and the crew you are left all fired up or totally disillusioned at the end by the sheer starkness of this fantastic production. Very strongly recommended. While everyone deserves great kudos, I would be remiss if I didn’t make special mention of Basab, the “Ingenious” who is the dramatist, director and protagonist of this wonderful presentation.
- Soumya Chakravorty
It was quite the treat with a gripping plot, superb direction and fantastic acting by the entire cast!
- Sowmya Padmanabhan
So impressed with all the cast and original script by Basab. Incredible talent! Hope everyone in Bay Area takes time to see this play
- Pragati Grover
The whole production was excellent. We enjoyed every minute of it.
- Roxane Mehta
Awesome play! Truly enjoyed it.
- Neelo Agarwal
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of watching an excellently written and well produced English play Not Equal To by Bay Area Drama Company. Every character was well enacted. Congratulations to the team.
- Anand Ramamurthy
It was brilliant! I loved the writing, topic, cast, and sets. Looking forward to the next season.
- Uttara Makker
Not Equal To is another feather in the cap for Bay Area Drama Company. Loved it! Very well written by Basab Pradhan and splendidly enacted by the cast. A story about controlled greed, profit over personal relationships and inequality. One of Basab’s best performances. Very effective and riveting performance as Chairman Rao! Sindu Singh was endearing as usual and I absolutely loved the gritty performance of Ekta Brahmkshatri as Anna.
- Namrita Yuhanna
What an excellent and a powerful play by Bay Area Drama Company!!! Super acting by Basab Pradhan and Sindu Singh and the ENTIRE cast!!!!! This is a must watch play for all Bay Area people!
- Yamini Mitter
So proud of Basab and Sindu for producing such amazing plays every single time. Basab's mastery over the language is evident in the writing. Lines like "Nothing corrodes authority like ridicule" have his signature written all over them. The lead characters were enacted to perfection by Ekta and Anirban. Basab's directorial skills and acting prowess were evident in the confrontational scenes with both the lead characters. Special shoutout to the stage management folks who moved so many pieces of set equipment across the various scenes so smoothly.
- Dinesh Chandrasekhar
Another great piece of work from Bay Area Drama Company! “Not Equal To” is so nicely put together! Basab Pradhan, what a tight original script and all round great performances by a talented cast and ably supported by a strong production team led by Sindu Singh! Wow!
- Pratish Shah
Another spectacular play by the Bay Area Drama Company. Awesome work by the cast and crew. Basab Pradhan and Sindu Singh you guys rock!!
- Prapti Oswal
Such lovely performances to a very well written play, Bay Area Drama Company's- Not Equal To. Hats off Basab for this gripping story....wonderfully cast and lit the stage. A strong plot and great performances!
- Dilip Ratnam
Not Equal To is my first original play. I wanted to write a story about inequality, which I believe, is the social justice issue of our times. How democracies today respond to the challenge of growing inequality will determine the future of nations.
I wanted my play to have a strong plot and interesting characters. Drama and humor. But it would also speak to an important issue - inequality.
In the play, it would have been very easy for me to paint the greedy capitalist as the villain and the union leader as the hero. But I’ve tried to avoid the facile, good versus evil narrative. To some that may be less satisfying. But that’s how I see the world - complex, unfair and often, tragic.
The play is set in the Indian IT industry. I spent more than a decade working there. The industry has lifted millions into a new, urban, professional middle class. My choice of industry as the setting for the play has less to do with fit and more to do with my familiarity with it.
Directing your own play is a bit of a luxury. You can keep tinkering with the lines, even the plot, well after rehearsals have begun. On the other hand, doing a major role in a play that you are directing is no walk in the park. Circumstances forced me to take on the role of Chairman Rao, who is in eight of the sixteen scenes in the play. I would have utterly failed without the help of my fantastic Co-Artistic Director, Sindu Singh. I am very grateful to her.
– Basab Pradhan
Ekta Brahmkshatri is a Game of Thrones fan. This is how she thinks Anna Mathew, the protagonist of Not Equal To, would be known across Westeros, if she lived there.
Anna Matthew, First of her name
The wearer of tattoos and a septum ring
Sworn sister guarding the rights of the oppressed
The queen of the union
Hacker of Swiper
Nerd at Ingenius
Free, fierce and fearless
The black Cheetah
Follower of her own will
Follower of Che
Breaker of rules
Drinker of Royal Stag
Master of manipulation
Protector of her self
She who has never met a man that could tame her
The commoner who was never promised anything but is here to take what’s hers
She who takes on a Goliath
Ekta plays the fiery Anna Matthew – the leader of the Underground Union at Ingenius and the nemesis of its powerful Chairman – Krishna Rao. She is what every woman aspires to be – determined, fearless, focused, willing to risk everything including her career and the love of her life, to fight for what she believes in. A commanding presence on stage, Ekta is imbuing her character with fierce independence, strength of conviction and a cool edginess that all comes together in a heady mix to make for one tough-as-nails leading character. Come see her take on Chairman Rao in a fight to the end that will determine the future of the most powerful IT company in India.
More photos of Anna and the rest of the cast can be found on Facebook.
PC: Swagato Basumallick
Whether in Silicon Valley or Bangalore, the major orbits in a typical technology professional’s galaxy are made up of career, commute, family and a bit of unwinding on weekends. My tech fraternity no doubt includes some shining stars that strive to make an impact on society and give back to their communities. Consequently, we see no dearth of charity events such as 5Ks, half marathons and other similar fundraisers. In the current, highly charged sociopolitical climate, protest marches have also pulled in a lot of people expressing their discontent over the issues of our times. However, when it comes to taking on the role of a change agent, one who dares to attempt triggering a significant shift in societal mindsets, I’ve observed a notable lack of enthusiasm among my peers. Individual interest in deeply influencing the way society operates at both macro and micro levels, is grossly lacking in the world we inhabit.
Rahul in Not Equal To embodies that archetypal technology professional. He is smart, ambitious, intelligent and goodhearted, but his philanthropic efforts are confined to writing a check in December to what he considers a ‘deserving’ cause. Probe him further on conventional norms, particularly the oppressive kind, and he responds with “Come on! It’s been this way for years.” As a techie myself, getting into and under this character’s skin has been a fascinating journey. While he can charm you, amuse you and make you care for him, Rahul simultaneously holds up a mirror to each of us and sends a loud and unmistakable message. My hope is that watching him will kindle the potential within each of us to combat our inertia.
Brilliantly etched as he is, Rahul is only one of the many multi-faceted characters in Not Equal To. At the initial play reading, I was entirely consumed by the script, its thrilling plot, impeccable attention to detail and overarching edginess. It was only when I started driving home did the deeper layers begin to unravel in my mind. Not Equal To raises a lot of important questions - the balance between the creation and distribution of wealth, the exploitation of the knowledge worker underclass vs. the trickle down benefits of expansion and development and the various forms of individual dissent and organized protest, the merits of which are clearly debatable at best. The play also does a stellar job of turning gender stereotypes on their heads. I have no doubt that questions around each of these issues will emerge in audience members’ minds after they’ve had a chance to digest the thrills and high-octane drama.
And this unique combination continues to be Bay Area Drama Company’s greatest strength. While their plays guarantee a riveting time inside the theatre, the subjects they choose to tackle give audiences so much more to walk away with. What each of us decides to do with it is entirely our prerogative but their plays make a sincere effort to plant a seed. For me, BAD Company’s platform is that sweet spot between my love for acting and the desire to make an impact on the world around me. I applaud my peers who choose other avenues to express themselves, but I hate running, so running for a cause is simply not for me and I cannot get myself to march for hours and yell out slogans loudly, so protests aren’t for me either. As an actor, I feel deeply empowered to be able to use the stage as a platform to make myself heard and hopefully make a difference!
"Ever since I was little, I have grown up hearing stories of Dad’s accomplishments and being compared to him. But I have never been able to convince him about my potential. He constantly worries about me. I was never passionate about computers and coding. I only studied Computer Science because dad wanted me to. I find myself torn between respect for him and simultaneous resentment at his lack of regard for my individuality. I have always felt that I am not good enough and am perpetually trying to prove myself to him."
– Neel Rao
Amar Chokshi's insights into Neel as a conflicted young man who is fighting hard to break free from the shadow cast by his larger than life father, Ingenius' powerful and overbearing Chairman Rao, come through beautifully in the paragraph he wrote above as part of his character's back story. He epitomizes the epic struggle faced by the children of famously successful people. Amar is infusing Neel with drive, ambition and a strong streak of youthful rebellion.
Jay Ganesh is playing Murali Venkataraman, the CFO of Ingenius, the right hand man of the ruthless Chairman Rao willing to blindly carry out his boss's every bidding without questioning the moral grounds or ethical repercussions.
Neel trusts Murali Uncle. He looks to him for advice on his budding startup. Little does he know that Murali is solidly loyal to only one man. Will Neel make his mark on his own? Will Murali ever stand up to Rao? Come watch Not Equal To to find out.
For more photos of Jay and Amar and the rest of the cast check out our Facebook album.
Michelle Marko is the Stage Manager for Not Equal To.
Michelle brings a wealth of experience to her first production with BAD Company. She has over two decades of experience with various theatre companies in the Bay Area, most recently at City Lights with such favorites as Ideation, Elephant Man, Amadeus, Wise Women, Dead Man Walking, and Compleate Female Stage Beauty. Other favorite productions she has worked on include Matthew Briar and the Age of Resurrection (Epic Immersive), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Silicon Valley Shakespeare), Carmen (Opera San Jose), and On the Verge (Bus Barn Stage Co.). Michelle has an MBA from University of Phoenix, and a BA in Technical Theatre from U.C. Santa Barbara, and recently published her first book A Stage Manager's Survival Guide: From Callbacks to Closing. When not backstage, Michelle can be found in the online advertising world at Adobe.
About working with BAD Company:
"I was drawn to BAD Company based on the serious and relevant issues they have addressed in their previous plays and the talented people, having worked with some of their actors on other productions. Since joining, I have been overwhelmed with the welcoming and caring nature of the company and the calibre of everyone involved and have had a fantastic time. It is amazing how much we laugh while working hard at rehearsals. I hope this is the first of many productions I'll be working on with BADCo!"
Today, as I sit drinking a cup of green tea, gazing out at the Arabian Sea from my luxurious apartment, I know that a world of opportunities lies in front of me. I am successful, financially independent and live life on my own terms, and if I need to use people to get ahead...so be it!
This is an excerpt from the backstory Rita Bhatia wrote for her character Priya Singh, a celebrity anchor on CBC, India's biggest business news channel. Rita is bringing to life on stage a Priya who is glamorous, ambitious, supremely confident and undoubtedly a cutthroat go-getter when she needs to be.
Divya Chari is playing Priya's junior, Vani Gupta, a young, eager, hungry investigative journalist. Vani has come across a once in a lifetime scoop that might make her career and needs Priya's guidance. In rehearsals, Divya is infusing Vani's character with an innocent naiveté and charm. Will Vani succeed? Will Priya help her? Come watch Not Equal To to find out!
More photos on our Facebook page here.
"With BAD Company, Sindu and Basab have created an environment where people feel comfortable and welcome. Perfect combination to let one’s creative juices flow!"
- Nitya Kansal
"Working as a costume designer for BAD Company, has increased my "curiosity quotient”. What I have learned - about theater production, social justice + art and costume design - has changed me as a human being."
- Arati Nagaraj
With over decade of experience leading makeup for multiple plays, musicals, films and stage productions with various Bay Area organizations, Nitya brings a tremendous wealth of knowledge, commitment and passion for the performing arts with her. This is her second outing with Bay Area Drama Company. She led the makeup team earlier this year for the sixteen-member cast of Wedding Album, our spring production. We are thrilled to have her back as Makeup Lead for Not Equal To.
In her own words, 'Working as a makeup artist, I get a different shape and color canvas each time, and I am allowed to create interesting and believable characters out of them for a story. Also, I get to meet nice, intelligent and very creative people. In my spare time, I enjoy nature, reading, music and dogs!'
Arati has been an avid theatre goer for several years with a deep interest in the arts. A chance encounter with BAD Company in April led to her take the plunge from an audience member to designing costumes for the summer production of Counter Offence. Happily for us, she returns now as the lead Costume Designer for Not Equal To.
In her professional life, Arati advocates, invents, and innovates educational solutions to fuse daily practices, curriculum design, and technology into unique learning experiences for global learners of all ages. She holds a Masters in Education, Media and Technology from Boston University.
Photos of the Makeup team and Costumes team for Not Equal To are on our Facebook page here.
We love posters. The process of designing them forces us to think about what is at the core of each play. Pragya Tiwari is the brilliant artist who captures the essence of our productions in her poster art and creates visually stunning pieces every time. She has designed most of our posters since we started our theatre company in 2014. Needless to say, we love her work.
And she loves us back. In her words -
When the opportunity to design for Bay Area Drama Company came up, I was thrilled. With their thought-provoking and entertaining theatre, they gave me a broad platform to experiment and create thoughtful work.
Collaborating with BAD Company has been immensely gratifying both personally and professionally. Creating the visual identity for their topical theatre has allowed me to push boundaries for visual communication on contemporary issues that I care deeply about. I hope that this collaboration continues to spark an honest dialogue that encourages you to immerse yourself in the wonderful theatre created by BAD Company.
Pragya's Posters, a retrospective of Pragya's work with us is now on our website.