Multi-hyphenated entertainer Roshan Abbas who, apart from being a radio jockey, theatre actor, writer and director now turns a technical support, editor and the first to attempt hosting a virtual interactive theatre ‘Lockdown Love’ in the country. “First and foremost we are all new to this lockdown situation. Hence it is the first time a virtual interactive theatre is even thought of,” says Roshan Abbas.
As an integral part of the entertainment industry, for Roshan, lockdown only meant ‘incubate and innovate.’ Not to forget working with the limited resources in hand. The play Lockdown Love is a modern day take on ‘arranged romance’ in the time of a pandemic. Roshan says the funny, relevant and witty rendition of first dates will have you clutching the edge of your bed, or wherever it is you watch content these days.
Giving a brief of the story, Roshan says “Our love-seekers are played by Shriya Pilgoankar and Priyanshu Painyuli, together they represent every single man and woman at the centre of this COVID-19 pandemic-created online dating world! Through the 40 minutes live play, the boy and the girl meet a series of ‘specimens’ that will probably look uncomfortably familiar to refugees from this lockdown online dating world. Using their personal phone cameras, created profiles and little twists at the end of each date, the audience is sure to fall in love with these two and maybe even hope for a date with either.”
About a diverse society
Talking about the format and the need to marry technology, while thinking of a caste who can express and emote within the limited screen space Roshan initially thought it would be the biggest task. “However, our director Sheena Khalid made it swift and easy; she decided on the cast within a few days. So apart from Shriya and Priyanshu, we also have Tanmay Dhanania who doubles up as a ridiculously self-absorbed dude and an actor hoping to practice his method acting. Then there is Kira Narayanan as the girl who baby talks her dog — her soul and saviour during quarantine — and doubles up as a ‘wedding vision board’-obsessed woman. Ashwin Mushran shows off this extreme weight loss and will leave viewers in splits as he turns up as a broke movie trailer voice over artist. And then there is Sheena Khalid herself who, with her phobias and OCDs, will make you want to sanitise your home again! From the absurd to the familiar, Lockdown Love follows a series of online first dates that couldn’t get any worse – until they do,” tells Roshan.
Roshan who also founded Kommune, a performing arts collective of poets, storytellers and musicians, says, “This unique time had all of us thinking and introspecting; when a bunch of us started talking, we knew we had to come together to do something. Partners like OML, Kwan, Big Bang Music, Tabhrasa, BookMyShow, Paytm Insider amongst others extended their resources as well. We urge artistes across the country and the world to come forth and participate freely and show the world that art and artists are important for humanity. We have ‘StayInALive’a platform for artists to come together to make a difference in the lives of those affected as well as each other in this unprecedented pandemic affecting the world,” explains Roshan The StayInALive platform aims to address three key phases which are educate, inspire and support.
Is the team nervous about going live online with the play? “We are excited and nervous because we don’t know what technical glitches we might face. The good news is: when we did a preview with a group of 130 people, they had a childlike excitement. All great art goes through an innovation and I want to think this is the first step for artistes to do a virtual live play,” adds Roshan.
As a technical director what has been the learning that he would like to share? “How to switch views, how many can view, what to do if any actor’s view fails momentarily, how to make the best use of the screen, I learnt a lot of this,” says Roshan as he signs off.
(Lockdown Love will be live on April 17 at 7 pm on Zoom app)