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by Vinta Nanda March 12 2024, 12:00 am Estimated Reading Time: 5 mins, 30 secs

Here’s a play that welcomes you to the experience instead of as its name suggests. ‘OK, TATA BYE BYE’, directed by Purva Naresh, stars Geetika Tyagi, and Vinta Nanda has quick conversations with both of them.

This is about the play ‘OK, TATA BYE BYE’, for which actor Geetika Tyagi is performing on 12th March 2024 at the Prithvi Theatre. It is produced by the Aarambh Theatre Group led by the well-known actor, screenwriter, dancer and director, Purva Naresh.

Recently, I interviewed Saif Hyder Hasan, the director of the soon to be released film ‘YES PAPA’, which deep dives to the trauma of a girl child repeatedly abused by her father. I asked him what it was like working with Geetika Tyagi, and he said, “I always wanted to cast her after watching the series ‘Powder’. She had wowed me in it. She holds my film together. As a matter of fact, it is her film. She owns it with the authority of a zamindar. She has this knack of saying so much to the camera without actually saying anything”.  

In the play ‘OK, TATA BYE BYE’, Geetika plays a documentary filmmaker - it is about her experiences while shooting with a community that has adopted prostitution as part of its tradition. Pooja, the protagonist, comes across people who disclose hard-hitting facts, revealing harsh realities about society. As the story goes, a young filmmaker couple come to a small village seeking an interview with a sex worker, Seema. But the affable Seema is not that easy to crack. She gives them a run for their money and in the end, an unexpected twist takes even the clever Seema by surprise.

Purva tells me that Aarambh, her theatre group works primarily with new writing in Hindi and staging it. She says, “We started it in 2010 with ‘AAJ RANG HAI’, a play that went to all premium theatre festivals in India and we followed it up with ‘OK, TATA BYE BYE’, which was invited to the Royal Court London for a rehearsed reading and won a Laadli Media Award supported by the UNFPA. We have since produced nine plays and are staging five of them. Our week-long festival at Prithvi Theatre showcases five of our all-time favourite plays, two new performances and seven masterclasses”. 

The festival has two sections. Mehfil-e-Fringe is a set of masterclasses by the best on dance, music, poetry and humour. Sanjay Rajoura is taking a masterclass on Stand Up, Rani Khanum on Kathak, Naresh Saxena on Poetry, Irshad Kamil and Niranjan Iyengar on Song Writing, Neerja Pandit on Kashmiri Music and Lovleen Misra for whacko poetry on young adults.

The theatre group has created musicals for three years. Purva says, “We have collaborated with Shubha Mudgal on Bandish and Ladies Sangeet, music composer Kishen Langoo on Roshe Roshe and Udbhav Ojha helms our music pit for ‘AAJ RANG HAI’. I have directed these big productions although Aarambh works with other directors and writers too”.

Other than the Laadli Media Award for best play on gender sensitisation, Purva has received the Safdar Hashmi Puraskar for direction and Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Award for playwriting by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, and two META awards for ‘AAJ RANG HAI’.

She has worked at the Amit Khanna and Mahesh Bhatt led Plus Channel, and with Subhash Ghai and Rakesh Roshan, and she also headed movie production at Reliance Entertainment. “I’ve worked with Rohan Sippy, Ashwini Dhir and Vinyl Mathews among others, but I quit about a decade ago to focus on telling out-of-the-box stories and to build my theatre group,” she says to me. As a writer Purva has worked with Applause Entertainment, BBC, Rose Movies and Banijay Productions.

I also had a short conversation with Geetika Tyagi, about her role in ‘OK, TATA BYE BYE’, and working in theatre. Here goes…

Tell me about your role in Ok Tata Bye Bye?

In the play, my character is Pooja. She’s a filmmaker who goes to a village to feature the Bachhda community. It’s a tradition for the girls there to be in the business of prostitution. Among them is Seema, a sex worker. Pooja wants to interview Seema, who’s quite a difficult person, and clever as well. Will she be able to make her film? Can she interview her?

Besides that, the play is also about how Pooja surprises herself during this journey, and through the experience of filming women from a community for whom prostitution is tradition. She comes across people who disclose hard-hitting facts, which reveal harsh truths. In the end, how Seema and Pooja become two sides of the same coin is interesting.

How did it come about for you to do it?

Director Purva Naresh approached me for the role. I first met her in 2012 when I was working on another play where she was in charge of the costumes and production.

What’s it like working with her?

Purva is a versatile and a strong woman who wears many hats. She is a screenwriter, director, trained Kathak dancer, and additionally, she’s an actor. Working with her is an enriching experience. She's like a whole package of traits rolled into one - fun, loving, sensitive, thoughtful, smart, intelligent, and strict, all at the same time. She's a fierce feminist, and that essence shines through the characters she works with.

Theatre or Film? Or both? What’s the difference and how do you process each?

I love theatre and films equally. I am passionate about both.

Theatre gives you an adrenaline rush and thrills, connecting you with live audiences. It is a vibrant experience where you present your art live, whereas films allow you to appreciate the technical aspects of recorded performances and presentations that can be viewed repeatedly. For me, both are important, and I use elements from both in my work.

Each has its own experience as mediums, and it is their respective qualities that make them unique. Unfortunately, theatre doesn't offer financial compensation, which is an aspect covered by films. For artists, that’s the big difference. One has to play the balance between the two to keep evolving one’s craft.

Tickets for ‘OK, TATA BYE BYE’ are available at the Prithvi Theatre and at Get yours seats before they run out!

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