The queer history of Hindu mythology is epitomized in the legend of Aravan in Mahabharata. Akvarious Productions in association with Hive & Reverie Entertainment Presents One Night Only, a dance-dramedy on the extraordinary story of Aravan scheduled at NCPA Experimental this Sunday (12th of May) from 6:30 PM onwards.
A regular boy searching for his father and wishing to be part of a story greater than himself, Aravan’s life changes forever on discovering he is the son of the great Pandava warrior Arjuna. Krishna, the mastermind has other plans for our hero and manipulates him into accepting the most unusual task. The unforgettable night between his acceptance of the task and its fulfilment are at the heart of One Night Only.
The play is conceptualized by the Tahira Nath and Amey Mehta, and directed and choreographed by Mehta himself. Nath is a regular in the Mumbai theatre circles, having worked on productions like Bayan and Dekh Behen. The talented duo have modernized the play to resonate with contemporary sensibilities. “The Mahabharata is a very complex web of stories. Instead of telling the same tale in a different way, we decided to see the same Mahabharata but with different eyes. Modernizing of the play was a very fun process, because there is always some joy in breaking down the gravitas of mythological figures and situations and ‘casual’-ising”, shares Nath.
Several dance pieces enliven the show, drawing on diverse forms like Bharatnatyam, Kalaripayetu, Odissi, and Karagattam, accompanied with Tamil folk music. The play’s director-choreographer Amey Mehta trained in several styles while at the Terence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company and has travelled extensively across the globe. His cast underwent an intense month of workshops to prepare for the performance.
One Night Only has been a critical darling since debuting last August at The Hindu Theatre Fest 2018, where it was hailed as ‘an energetic masterpiece’. “The play response has been wonderful. Audiences have loved the real event linked to a mythological event. Shuttling between the movements, some old world charm, and a decent dose of humor, the audiences have loved the roller coaster of emotions that we tried to put on the table”, gushes Nath.
Aravan has become a deity among certain members of the transgender community, whose devotees gather from across India for an annual festival celebrating their God at Tamil Nadu’s Koovagam village. This tradition takes place at the Koothandavar Temple during the full moon of the Tamil month of Chitrai and involves the reenactment of the Indian epic. Says Amey, “Catching the 18 day festival and understanding their celebrations, their struggles and triumphs was a heartwarming yet heart wrenching process even as we were developing the script, and we truly believe that some of that has translated into the final output and leaves a similar impact on the audience as it did on us”.
Rejoice as One Night Only brings to stage the hidden gem from the Mahabharata about one war, two lovers, and the third sex!