Thespian Ahi Karunaharan is bringing his brand new play 'My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak' based on the 70s that has promised his audiences a night of fun and laughter on every show.
With plays like 'A Fine Balance', First World Problems, The Mourning After, Ahi has come a long way in redefining the South Asian stories and theatre characters to the audience.
MHGTT is his next venture bringing interactive comedy, with live music and an ensemble of diverse characters on the stage that guarantees his audience a laughter riot.
In an interview with The Indian Weekender, Director of the play, Ahi Karunaharan explains why this play is a must-watch for everyone and what makes this theatre piece so unique.
Writer and director of the play Ahi Karunaharan (Photo Courtesy: Auckland Theatre Company)
IWK: What inspired you to create 'My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak'?
Ahi Karunaharan: I was inspired to create My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak because I wanted to create more opportunities for our South Asian creatives to be seen on our stages, for us to tell stories that we don't get to say often, imagine us in time history and re-write our past. I wanted to create something fun with heart. The storyline evolved as I started to develop the work.
The title came from a conversation I had with a friend when I couldn't find the words to describe a feeling. I was trying to express this feeling of a thousand horses galloping away, and I was just stuck for words, and suddenly they were like 'oh I think I know what you are trying to say, is this feeling like the bass drum of a good RD Burman song, Thadak Thadak? And thus that phrase has stayed with me. Thadak Thadak in this context of the play represents multiple things, the horses of the wild west, the beating hearts of the characters.
The play is predominantly a comedy but like all good desi story there a bit of everything else thrown in there too. It's a bit of a thali.
IWK: What new dimension in Asian roles do you bring with this theatre piece?
Ahi: My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak is an immersive, interactive and comedy play. It allows our South Asian actors to flex their comedic acting muscles and present three-dimensional characters that serve beyond the exoticization of the east when presented in spaces outside of our own. These characters through this theatre work get to perform in a Western spaghetti genre that South Asian actors origin don't often get to play.
The poster of the play 'My Heart Goes Tharak Thadak' (Poster: Elephant Publicity)
IWK: Do you think that the audience has the appetite to see more of Indian (South Asian subcontinent) stories- has it grown over the years?
Ahi: I believe our audience is hungry to see more of Indian/South Asian/subcontinental stories. If you look at the rise of South Asian content on mainstream platforms over the years, you'll see the growth and crossover appeal of creatives like Hasan Minhaj, Lily Singh, Mindy Kaling, Kumail Nanjiani that are doing work for diaspora audiences. If we look further at all the original new content that is appearing on Amazon Prime and Netflix like Made in Heaven, Sacred Games, it further supports that there is an appetite to see more desi stories.
IWK: Tell us very briefly about the principal characters in the play.
Ahi: There are five characters in the play. First, there is Manjit who is the associate producer of the film; he is the jack of all trades on the film set. Ranikumari is a senior actress and an absolute diva who makes the filming process difficult for everyone, Shankar, is an aspiring actor who has come on board the film set as production crew hoping to be discovered and the sibling directing duo Kamala and Roshan, who cannot see eye to eye about how to finish their father's incomplete film.
IWK: Tell us about your love for theatre, and what are your expectations from this play?
Ahi: When I enter a theatre, I feel like going into a different world altogether. I could be anywhere!
I enjoy making theatre because where a movie is the same every time, a play never is. The actors respond to the audience and each other slightly differently at each performance. It means you become part of the show. The way you react gives the actors something to feed on and respond to. I hope our audiences walk out of the theatre a different person than when they walked in and that they think at least one thing in a new way and if I achieve that then I'd be pretty pleased with that.
Ahi during the practice session (Photo: Supplied, Elephant Publicity)
IWK: How long have you been working on MHGTT?
Ahi: The show was commissioned and programmed by leading Theatre company Silo Theatre. Workshops for the script began late last year, and this year our design team came on board. We started rehearsals last month, and we open at Q Theatre on Thursday, November 21, for our first preview.
Director statement: "My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak is a fun night out for the whole family, an absolute 'Paisa Vasool' featuring amazing costumes from the 70s and live music. Each night of the show a different group of desi dancers come on stage to perform a final dance number of the show. The audience is also part of the world of the show, so if they want they can help our actors out when they call for it."
The show premiers on Thursday, November 21 and will run until 21 December 2019. Tues & Wed: 7pm; Thurs to Sat: 8pm & Sun: 5pm. More information: https://silotheatre.co.nz/my-heart-goes-thadak-thadak