Sunil Evam Karthik in Bangalore

Since Evam is putting up two plays, “Love Letters” and “The Odd Couple” in Bangalore, I thought I would meet them both and get their views on Bangalore….

Ranga Shankara is one theatre space where the artistes are very approachable; when I went to buy tickets for “The Odd Couple”, Sunil himself was sitting there…he says he likes to interact with the paying public! I met both Karthik and Sunil and asked them about the new iniitiative which they are going to undertake, aimed at the I T industry in Bangalore, and their general views on theatre in this city.

Sunil and Karthik have nothing but praise for the theatre audiences of Bangalore, and more particularly, of Ranga Shankara. Karthik describes Ranga Shankara as a “different world…magical.” They feel that the theatregoers in Bangalroe have “theatre discipline”….. a respect for theatre that, they think, is often absent elsewhere. “In Ranga Shankara, they actually make it a point to close the doors at 7.30 pm and start the play, and the audience makes it in time,” says Karthik. When one is competing, as an entertainer, with mass media like the movies and television, this kind of audience is a definite boon.

Neither of them has kind words for the kind of charges the Chowdiah hall authorities are levying. “Seventy thousand rupees a day is incredibly high”, they say. However, they are not ruling out staging theatre there; it depends on the economics, Sunil feels. However, they also want to bring theatre to “different areas in Bangalore”…and are also looking at Alliance Francaise as a possible venue for future productions. But Ranga Shankara, where the theatregoers and the artistes can easily interact, where the charges are more on the lines of profit-sharing, and where Arundhati Nag is truly supportive…this venue will continue to hold a special place in their hearts. However, they are looking at perhaps holding 8 shows in Ranga Shankara, and 16 in other venues, as a rough estimate.

Their business model, very different from the “event staging” model that most theatre groups use, allows them to work intensely on sponsorship for three months, during which they line ujp their sponsors for the whole year. This allows them to concentrate on the productions, and touring, for the rest of the year, and be independent of city-specific sponsors. The business model has evolved over the past three years, and they say it’s working fine for them right now. Royal Sundaram and Airtel are the names they are associating themselves with right now.

They are both very keen on the new “wellness programme” they have just begun, called “Touring Talkies”, after the mobile movie shamianas that used to be put up in rural areas. This initiative, at present, is focused on the IT industry; they say they take it to any organization that has a campus, with a small hall of its own. They conduct one-day programs for the employees, and it is not a theatre workshop. It is a kind of program where theatre itself is used as a kind of therapy, to beat the stress and strain that a demanding job can bring. The program culminates in a performace by Evam in the evening, at the hall on the company’s campus. It has been a big success in Chennai, and they are looking forward to doing it in Bangalore. The initiative is to help employees themselves look at their lives differently; it is a kind of HR module.They are thinking of IT companies like Infosys, Hewlett Packard, and TCS (for which they did such a program in Chennai.) As of now, they are concentrating only on the IT companies in Bangalore; but could also do it for any company which could provide the necessary infrastructure.

Any minuses about Bangalore? “No”, say the young men unanimously. “Everything is a plus here.” People actually come from pretty far away even on a working day, braving the traffic, to attend their productions. And the online ticket reservation system that they have is working a treat. And Bangalore, Karthik says, is not “culturally divided” the way Mumbai is…audiences here are truly cosmopolitan.

Both of them are gung-ho about the future, and proclaim in ringing tones, their confidence that in ten years from now, Evam will be the vanguard of a big theatre movement. “We are not going to be an Amal,Kamal, Vimal, or Nirmal….we are going to have distinction!” Karthik proclaims.But down-to-earth, they also talk about the anxiety their families undergo as they embrace careers which are out of the ordinary.

They are now planning on writing two plays…one based on the novel, “Five Point Someone”, and another, the stage adapation of Satyajit Ray’s “Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne”,where they are going to handle the special effects “very differently”. Both will be brought to Ranga Shankara first, they say. It is clear that they really enjoy this theatre venue a lot.

Sunil Evam Karthik

Here they are, Karthik looking over Sunil’s head….let’s wish these bright young men the very best, as they go the theatre way to happiness and fulfilment in their lives.

1 Comment so far

  1. Madhu (unregistered) on February 23rd, 2007 @ 10:05 am

    Wish I was there to watch gupi gyne bhaga byna, my fav. movie from childhood. Will definitely ask my friends not to miss this one. Thanks for this post Deepa!!

    Madhu (JLRNTP)

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