The saga of Mumbai, Girangaon, traces the growth of the modern city through it various phases of development from an industrial centre based on a township of cotton textile mills. An effervescent community spawning a popular culture still evident in the modern metropolis, life revolved around work in the cotton mills, living in crowded chawls crammed full of workers from impoverished villages. The density, chaos and oppressive nature of this living enticed workers to the freedom of the streets. This in turn created a vibrant and virulent culture, in spite of poor wages and working conditions, still evident and reflected in the artistic renaissance of the 40s and 50s. Modernisation and the attendant struggles for workers of Girangaon set up the present battleground for the city’s future, mills replaced by malls, and chimneys by glass towers, the old laying siege to the new.
This is a celebration of Mumbai!
RAMU RAMANATHAN is a playwright-director and editor of PT Notes, a monthly theatre newsletter produced by Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai.
He has written the plays Shanti, Shanti, It’s A War (1993 All India Best Play Award – The Hindu), Mahadevbhai, and Collaborators which was awarded the BBC Radio Playwriting Regional Award (2003). He penned the docu-drama 3, Sakina Manzil and youthful plays like Curfew, Yaar, Whats The Capital Of Manipur, Combat, and other one act and radio plays.
Ramanathan has written and directed two children’s plays for the Little Prithvi Players.
Ramanathan considers his best work to be with young people and non-theatre persons. He has workshopped and staged plays with diverse groups of University students. His collaboration with a group of architecture students resulted in 3 plays including a delightfully wicked piece called PM @ 3 pm. This group hosted an important 7-day workshop on Set Design and Theatre Aesthetics in Mumbai.
SUNIL SHANBAG, NIRUPAMA KAUL, DEVDATTA SABLE
The sound design for Cotton 56, Polyester 84 was carefully constructed to re-create a soundscape made up of remembered sounds from the streets of Girangaon, and popular music from the time.
Also the director of the play, Sunil Shanbag uses sound and light as critical elements in all his productions. Often a piece of music, or a fragment of sound, sparks off the key idea in a production, and in Cotton 56, Polyester 84, it was the street sounds of Girangaon that helped create the design of the play. Sunil Shanbag has been directing plays for many years, and his work is marked by strong original texts, minimalist staging, and powerful performances by a group of talented actors.
Nirupama Kaul is a skilled sound editor with growing experience in creating tracks especially for the theatre. She has been involved in numerous documentary film and radio projects as an editor, and brings her skills dealing with real sounds to her work in Cotton 56, Polyester 84.
Devdatta Sable is one of Maharashtra’s leading composers and music directors. His work in the theatre is of special note, and he has composed music for significant productions such as Dusra Samna, Mujra Ghya Sarkar, Zulva, Saiyya Bhaiye Kotwal, and most recently for Cotton 56, Polyester 84. Devdatta knows the cultural ethos of Girangaon intimately, and his contribution to re-creating the musical traditions of the period was invaluable.