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Artistes

Playwright, Musician & Director
Actor

Kannada | 90 minutes | Suitable for Ages 16+ 

The play is an ode to queer love. It is a meditation on the values of empathy and dialogue as powerful agents to bring estranged minds together. The narrative traverses through moments of passion, anger, sadness, and love in its raw human element. The characters attempt to interrogate, understand, and acknowledge each other, and in this process, unveil the universality of all emotions as being the same, irrespective of gender and orientation. The play tries to deconstruct and lay open the psychological and emotional baggage of the characters who are but symbols of the divided humanity that we are today. An interfaith gay couple and the mother of one of the characters venture on a journey of understanding one another rather light-heartedly through uncomfortable conversations, only to explore depths which they never knew or imagined would be possible to unearth.

Playwright/Director’s Note:

With the drastic change in the political discourse the world has witnessed in the last few years, one cannot but notice the drastic emergence of an undeniable divide within humanity. There are two segments that appear to be in stark contrast, constantly struggling and fighting with each other. There is a constant othering and exclusion of minorities by the majority in power. During the pandemic, the apathy by the political class at large was glaringly visible and we witnessed in full display the class disparity that envelops our nation. The Hindu – Muslim rhetoric was constantly fed to us through public discourse and hate was offered as a staple diet for even those who refused to be part of it.

The artist felt compelled to speak up, believing that love is the only antidote to the vehement poison of hate. They hence decided to write and direct this play that features the love story of a gay couple hailing from the Hindu and Muslim communities. Diversity cannot be celebrated without the intersectionality that makes for the complex mix of the society we are. The play intends to hold the mirror to the microaggressions and biases that consume us all through humor and emotional storytelling.

With music, love, and humor, the play tries to unravel the demons of Islamophobia and homophobia in us all. It celebrates the value of empathetic dialogue and honest communication in eradicating hate. Amma mattu Suhail is a tender story of love, acceptance, and possibilities.

The artist is a classical musician, writer, and theatre practitioner, and their arts practice is always an amalgamation of these elements. They create out of necessity! Having grown up queer and gender fluid, they struggled to find representation in the Kannada arts scene and were disappointed. They tried to fit in and adapt to the arts “as is” but eventually found it suffocating and had to carve out their own path and create what they wanted to engage with. They strive to bring marginalized voices to the fore and their stories or creations always aim to question and break patriarchal stereotypes and conditioning. Their search is always to find fluidity. Just like their characters either in the plays they have written or in the dance-based compositions they have created, which always traverse through the non-binary nature of gender identity or sexuality, the art they create yearns to find fluidity in form and content. They break the structure and form using non-linear narratives, democratic – secular emotional indulgences, and fluid emotional paradigms. They attempt to convey the grotesque bizarreness of our social existence with humor and the humorous, funny realities that define us through the macabre.

They always like to begin with an uncomfortable space and establish familiarity with the unfamiliar. Most importantly, they want their art to be accessible to all class and caste sections of society. They often find it very difficult to mold their form in a way that does not “other” an audience which has no access to learning arts appreciation or delving into abstraction. While they try to abstain from dumbing down their audience, they make it a priority to make their arts inclusive. Having been in circles where art is created and consumed in the same vicious elitist spaces and circles, they yearn to connect to a larger canvas.

Having written, produced, and directed three plays, their exploration has always yearned to find that fluidity between sound and silence, prose and poetry, body and realism. They aim to tell more queer stories which are embraced by the mainstream and more mainstream stories which make the queer community feel that they are “seen”. Whilst they are cognizant of the brutal grays that marginalized voices live in, they believe we need more positive representation of these marginalized characters. Their younger queer self wanted to watch happy endings and stories of hope and not just suicide and tragedies. They work only on stories which are fictional retellings of lived experiences and also for these stories to be specifically told in Kannada. Regional languages have the power to automatically place these stories in a certain space while also making sure to remove them from only English-speaking elite spaces. They strive to create work which opens itself to a more vulnerable audience who need to hear, get uncomfortable, and feel ignited towards a spirit of inquiry through these stories.

They will be glad if their art is also entertaining but they will never be okay if it is not activism.

Credits:

Playwright – Direction – Music : Karthik Hebbar
Cast: Dr Seetha Kote, B V Shrunga, Arun D T
Lighting: M G Naveen
Production Manager: Murali Sreeram
Subtitles Execution: Chethana Ramesh Srivatsa
Backstage: Vishak Bharadwaj and Soumya Dixit
Produced by Dheemahi Theatre

Dheemahi Theatre was born out of the need to create a safe space for new voices. We are a space for the “outsiders”. We have come together to tell stories that have been oppressed and suppressed in other majoritarian spaces. Empathy and humanity are the main focuses of all the work that we create. We as a team thrive on celebrating diversity and secular narratives by exploring and devising new techniques for facilitating these stories. We work around minimalist production setups and maximal internal processes. With a passion for storytelling that transcends boundaries, we strive to create a stage that reflects the kaleidoscope of human experiences. Our productions are more than performances; they are a canvas of shared narratives that resonate with the richness of our collective journey. We aspire to weave together tales that inspire, provoke thought, and unite us in the magic of the theatre.

Supported by:

 

 

Artistes

Karthik Hebbar

Playwright, Musician & Director

Karthik Hebbar, based in Bangalore, is an art activist involved in music, theatre, and media in Karnataka. He collaborates extensively with theatre groups, dancers, and filmmakers to create original content. As a Carnatic classical vocalist and composer, Karthik contributes innovative poetry and compositions to the classical dance and music community, and also engages in critical writing and lecture demonstrations.

In addition to his artistic pursuits, Karthik writes columns for leading publications, publishes short stories in Kannada, and explores photography. Active in modern theatre as a playwright and director, he addresses themes of gender, identity, and LGBTQ rights. Karthik speaks at diversity forums and queer initiatives, sharing his journey as a queer artist. He also writes an Instagram poetry series that provides insights into queer life and experiences.

 

Seetha Kote

Actor

Dr. Seetha Kote is a renowned Bharatanatyam dancer and actor. She started learning Bharatanatyam from a young age and has performed at many prestigious venues and events. Her role as Shambhavi akka in Muktha Muktha is dearly beloved by many and has made her a household name across the state. She has acted in many Kannada and Tulu films, several of which have won National Awards. Having completed her PhD, she is the founder of Dhee Mahi Institution of Arts. She has also been actively involved in theatre productions with many troupes. She has performed her seventy-minute one-woman show ‘Alegalalli Antaranga’ at several prestigious occasions and has established her own theatre team ‘Dhee Mahi Theatre’, which has produced well-loved plays that have earned much critical and public acclaim.

 

Shrunga BV

Actor

Shrunga is an actor working in theatre and films. He won the best actor award at the Mahindra Excellence for Theatre Awards in 2019. He has trained under teachers from Bangalore, Mumbai, and Pondicherry. He has been a part of many Indo-German collaborations. He is interested in being a part of stories that challenge and question social constructs. He is also a puppeteer in training.

 

Arun DT

Actor

Arun D T has worked extensively in theatre in various technical departments. He has acted in various plays and is part of many amateur theatre groups. He is also a very sought-after lighting designer and technician for theatre, dance, and music productions. He has also worked his way into films and is working in the acting/direction department.