Sydney ! get ready for Kanjoos !!

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Saba Abdi as Sarzina, Ambika Asthana as Mariyam and Amitav Goswami as Mirza Sakhawat Baig

In a hall in northern Sydney for the last couple of months a very hectic rehearsals are going on with  local actors of the Adakar Group busy  practicing the play ‘Kanjoos’ just about everyday as the big day nears. Kanjoos will be staged as part of the  Parramasala on October 18 at 6 pm  at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta.

Sydney is sure to see familiar faces such as Amitav Goswami, Aparna Vats, Ambika Asthana, Saba Zaidi, Asif Ghafoor Khan and Vikas Sehgal. Actors have been cast both from local Indian and Pakistani community and are being polished into fine actors as ‘Kanjoos’ gets ready under the capable direction of Saba Zaidi Abdi. It has been obviously a labour of pure love for the art that is theatre which is now developing into  a performance which will be world class. After the staging of this play one can say with confidence that one will not need those expensive overseas actors as Sydney creates its own critical mass in the genre of theatre, acting, writing  and producing plays.

Saba, artistic director of the recently formed Adakar Theatre Group has been professionally involved in theatre for the last four decades. A graduate of National School of Drama, India she has directed scores of plays for television and theatre. As creative minds never rest or get active after a lull, Saba realised after having directed a play for the IABBV Hindi School that there was enough creative people in Sydney itself who could form a serious theatre group that is committed to doing theatre on a regular basis.

Saba Zaidi is known for her great pioneering work in bringing Indian television to Australia with creation of Vision Asia and now having created South Asian packages for Fetch TV, she has gone to her first passion which is theatre.

Says Saba whose passion one can feel bubbling to express with the help of some good local talent under her tutelage, “The community deserves to have a platform to showcase their creative expression and talent. Fortunately a group of very enthusiastic, committed and likeminded people shared my vision and came together to form Adakar Theatre and Cultural Group. We selected to launch our theatre group with a celebrated comedy Kanjoos in Urdu language which we expect will attract and entertain all age groups of South Asian background.”

In the middle of rehearsals, marketing and finances there are many other challenges to produce the play such as ”˜Kanjoos’ because one cannot be miserly about the caste, its costumes, stage décor and the rest. The work on the play started last year and rehearsals from February this year, though Saba insists, “It is purely a non-commercial venture entirely funded by the founding members of Adakar. I can proudly say that our actors are both from India and Pakistan as we needed Hindi and Urdu speaking actors and I must say they are enjoying working together.”

When asked about Kanjoos, how did she end up selecting this play, “Kanjoos is an adaptation of the famous French comedy by Moliere ”˜The Miser’ though written in the 16th century it deals with fundamental human qualities of greed, manipulation, hypocrisy and lust. There are many shades of human character which are quite universal. Kanjoos has been beautifully adapted into a north Indian feudal home in the middle of last century.”

Kanjoos is the story of Mirza Sakhawat (generous) Baig contrary to his name is the biggest ”˜Kanjoos Makkhi Choos’ is obsessed with the wealth that has accumulated and is always ready to grab more but spend none. Now a widower, Mirza has a son Farrukh, and a daughter Azra whom he wants to marry for money. Although Mirza is over sixty, he is determined to marry an attractive young girl Mariyam who is actually in love with his wealth.

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Aparna Vats as Azra with Vikas Sehgal in the role of Nasir


Says Saba to the Indian community, “This is a family play which can be enjoyed by the very young and the very old as they will be able to closely associate with it. It is a great opportunity to experience this great world comedy adapted into their own cultural context and see interesting parallels in their own society here. I recommend that the Indian community should come and see this hilarious play enacted by some talented local actors who are a force in themselves now.”

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Ambika Asthana with Asif Ghafoor Khan acting as Farukh

Adakar Theatre Group has long term vision of a creating a bridge between the south Asian community and Australians and is looking at doing some full length and short plays in the time to come as well as conducting workshops for speech, movement and acting. Besides setting up Adkar Theatre Group Saba who is directing the play and also acting in it. Other founding members of the group are: Mala Mehta; Amitav Goswami; Radhika Mathur; Sheba Nandkeolyar; Rajeev Maini and Shashi Dandekar.

Kanjoos will be staged on October 18 at Riverside Theatre at 6pm and is a must see. So keep a note in your diary for sure!

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