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Pride Preview: Mumbai Monologues

Wed 12 Feb 2014 In: Performance View at NDHA

Queer Mumbai will come to Auckland Pride tonight with Mumbai Monologues, a snapshot of a city of 20.5 million which never sleeps. Director Ahi Karunaharan tells us more. Mumbai Monologues – A Thousand Unsaid Words, is one of the Queer@TAPAC contributions to the rich theatre offerings of Auckland Pride Festival. Far from actors delivering lines onstage, it will be interspersed with live music and movement. One of its Directors Ahi Karunaharan is a Toi Whakaari graduate who spent six years working as an actor, but has now turned his focus to writing, and has garnered experience in producing and directing too. He’s started his own production company, Agaram Productions. “The purpose of that is to tell stories to New Zealand from people with a point of difference,” he says. “And take it out to the rest of the world. That’s where we’re at.” Mumbai Monologues is a collection of eight different stories by various writers, including a monologue he penned. “We wanted to get a whole range of voices in there so it didn’t sound the same,” Karunaharan explains. Singer/songwriter Sayanti Chatterjee With tales ranging from loss to new love, Mumbai Monologues is designed to represent the vibrant, diverse, busy mishmash that Mumbai is, presented alongside original songs by Indian-born New Zealand singer/songwriter by Sayanti Chatterjee and compositions by Kim Gruebner. Karunaharan says the Auckland Pride Festival offered a perfect space for the stories to be supported, saying the queer voice is relatively new in the South Asian community, as far as he is aware. “I could be wrong. There could be previous productions in New Zealand I don’t know of, but I know the community is relatively conservative. This seemed like a safe way for us to step out.” He hopes it helps the South Asian community start talking about “issues we seem to pretend are not there, and are swept under the carpet,” as he phrases it. And it will be timely, with one of the monologues looking at the backwards move on gay rights in India in the form of the reversal of Section 377 of the Penal Code, making gay sex illegal again. “While we were putting the show together, that was a real trigger for us,” Karunaharan says. It’s also a chance for people from across the glbti community to share in the queer South Asian experience. “With South Asian stories, often they are of a certain style and a certain topic. Usually there are about migration or identity. This more about the present, the now, other themes than just ‘we’re here’,” Karunaharan says. “People may think it could be really educational, but it’s not. These are really celebratory stories full of humour … there’s some fantastic music – it’s like seeing eight different shows for the price of one really. It’s an experience.” Mumbai Monologues is at TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Wed 12 February - Sunday 16 February. Buy tickets here   Jacqui Stanford - 12th February 2014    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Wednesday, 12th February 2014 - 2:15pm

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