Direction : Manav Kaul
Writer : Dwijottam Bhattacharjee, Kalki Koechlin & Manav Kaul
Cast : Swanand Kirkire, Satyajeet Sharma, Ajitesh Gupta, Amrita Bagchi, Kalki Koechlin, Chitrangada Chakraborty & others


Aditi Sharma


COLOUR BLIND, the playwright mentions at the outset, is "an attempt to see beyond the majestic Gurudev (Rabindranath Tagore) and discover the man through his relationships." And so the journey through Tagore's life begins - from his boyhood, to his youth and finally through his days as a man of much experience, the play juggles the many facets of his life. There is no linear script here. When Tagore finds it difficult to express himself, he's helped along by the literary characters he resurrects. In addition, there is the subplot of the research student and her guide, who are also exploring Tagore's life. The script, jointly written by Dwijottam Bhattacharjee, Kalki Koechlin and Manav Kaul, appears to cover a huge gamut of Tagore's personal life.

COLOUR BLIND tumbles out of a research paper written by a student (Kalki Koechlin) and the discussions between her and her professor (Satyajit Sharma). The research paper becomes the backbone of the play and stories from the research fit into the jigsaw of the play. Sharma plays the mentor in the now and Tagore in the aside. Koechlin switches between a student, who is researching Tagore as part of her course, and Victoria Ocampo, the Argentine writer and intellectual, who became close to Tagore. Amrita Bagchi plays Tagore as a young boy, and Ajitesh Gupta plays Tagore in his youth.

Kaul manages to give himself a rather broad canvas to explore and that's a treat. The switch from contemporary to past and to Tagore's childhood is near seamless. The bit about Tagore's poetry hip-hopped in a nightclub is a bit harsh in comparison to the general tone of the play but, well, how else would you portray that times have changed?

From exploring how a young Tagore wrote his stories to living through his personal agonies seems like a lot to fit into one script but the team manages to pull it off. A number of timelines and stories from various places meet in the script. Yet, if you're patient, it's amazing how it all holds together.

Casting songwriter-singer Swanand Kirkire in a play is nothing short of a coup. However, his character is pretty much wasted - it is like an annoying pop-up window that never quite fits in. Sharma's whining voice takes on too feminine a tone as he gets emotional and gets progressively distracting, even annoying. Trying too hard to act Tagore makes it jarring. Ajitesh and Amrita, on the other hand, hold up their versions of Tagore very well. The star or the play is Koechlin and this has nothing to do with her celebrity hood. The switch from being a student to Victoria Ocampo, from French to contemporary roadside lingo, adds nuances to her character. Here is an actor who's really put in an effort to build her character and it shows.

COLOUR BLIND's achievement is that it gives theatre audience an old world experience of a worthy theatre outing. Words are important here, not just theatrics. This is perhaps Kaul's most mature piece to date. Of course, this only means that the bar gets set even higher for the next work we may expect from him. COLOUR BLIND is clearly aiming for the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards(META), and stands a good chance of bagging some awards too.

*Aditi Sharma enjoys watching theatre and writing about it. - See more at:

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