Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mother Teresa musical to tour India

Organizers of a mammoth Telugu play on the life of Mother Teresa, which was first staged last month in Hyderabad, plan some 100 shows across Indian cities this year.
Amruthavani Communication Center brought in Telugu movie celebrities to create a theatrical magnum opus The Mother in Telugu, which was staged in Dec. 9 and 10.
Center's director Fr. U. Balashowry, who has filmmaking experience in the USA, said in unlike in the US, where the opera too is very popular, cinema tends to be the only form of entertainment available in India. "This is what prompted me to come up with the musical that also carries a message."

The idea of making theatre an alternate entertainment came to Fr. Balashowry while he was doing a Masters Degree in Fine Arts from Loyola Marymount University in USA. His first film ‘The Last Appeal’ won three international awards including the one at the Las Vegas International Film Festival.

The two-hour play initially costing 40 lakh rupees shows the life of an young Yugoslavian girl joining a Kolkata convent and then setting up her own Missionaries of Charity for the poor play. The play also shows how she overcomes her constant struggles and obstacles.

Telugu film actor Sreeja Sadineni played the lead role. Most others were also drawn either from the film industry or TV fraternity.

“It was hard to portray Mother Teresa from the age of 21 till 87. I had to work a lot on my expressions and body language, since it’s not easy to play an old woman. There is just a five-minute gap during transitions, when I get my makeup done according to the age I play,” lead actress Sreeja said.

The songs were sung by playback singers M.L.R. Karthikeyan and Sadhana Sargam and Sravani Anup. Costumes were designed by Kalyani, a well known designer of the film industry.

The theatrical initially produced at a cost of 40 lakh rupees has 80 characters and 30 crew members. “Since we wanted to give people a different experience, we decided to produce the musical on the lines of a ‘touring theatre’.

The musical will tour Kolkata, Pune, Bangalore and a few other cities and plans at least 100 performances during the year, the priest said.

What’s interesting is that though the musical has 11 huge sets and 23 scenes, we did not use any curtains — all transitions are done by lightings,” explains Fr. Balashowry who is also the producer of the play.

Nandi Award Winner Akella who wrote the script said he would have "flatly refused" the work but for the humanism it wanted to promote. "If it was about religion alone, I wouldn’t be able to do justice to it in my writing. This (humanism) subject is universal.” He said.

“The play was very touching," Archbishop Thumma Bala of Hyderabad and Chairman of Amruthavani, said after watching it.

The Centre has been working the filed of communication in the region for the past 50 years has many production to its credit, the jewel being the film ‘Karunamayudu" on the life of Christ.

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