Being Mrs Gandhi to air across Asia

V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR

Covid-19 has put live theatre in Singapore on hold. But local theatre personality Daisy Irani is not sitting quiet.

The founder and creative director at HuM Entertainment has teamed up with Indian channel Zee to air four of its plays on television from Aug 30.

"It is fabulous that we can take Singaporean theatre on a virtual tour of 17 Asian countries, to 9.6 million viewers," Mrs Irani told tabla! "How can this not be a first for Singapore theatre that we should not be proud of?

"It is collaborations like this one, between Zee and HuM, that help us battle through these hard times and bring about awareness among audiences that Singapore theatre is vibrant."

The four selected plays were previously staged in Singapore. They are in English and representative of the varied theatre work that HuM has brought to life.

Being Mrs Gandhi is uniquely entertaining as it tells Mahatma Gandhi's story from the perspective of his wife, Kasturba.

We Are Like This Only 2 is a comedy about "new Indians" and "old Indians" in Singapore discovering how different they are.

Nagamandala is a good Indian folk tale about the relationship between a young bride and a cobra.

Here Comes The Bride is about a well-planned Indian wedding that is on the verge of collapsing because the parents of the groom lose control over the situation.

"We are providing a variety of theatrical experiences - drama, folk and comedy - that are emblematic of our culture, our art form and our ability to entertain," said Mrs Irani.

"Zee TV audiences will get to watch plays that we have curated and created here in our Little Red Dot.

"The plays had a resounding reception in Singapore. But that was just limited shows and limited audiences. Now the content will directly go into homes."

According to Mrs Irani, it has been a monumental technical effort to recover all the video footage that existed of these plays and re-package, re-purpose and re-edit the content in a way that transitions it from stage to screen so audiences can get the best viewing experience.

"While we had multiple cameras, the original objective was to create an archival memory of these theatre productions," she said.

"But the discovery that we had so much material that allowed us to get up close and personal with the performance on stage was a pleasant one.

"We have been able to extract close-ups and angles that present the productions in a way that is more conducive to TV viewing without losing the essence of its theatricality. But audiences must sit with a mindset that this is theatre."

The content had to be segmented to include commercial breaks and appropriate break bumpers had to be added to adapt it for TV.

Mrs Tripta Singh, executive vice-president, Zee Network, said that "it is the first time any Hindi channel is pushing the boundary of TV entertainment in such a way in Singapore".

"Under the umbrella branding of TtoZee, we are featuring four handpicked plays of the celebrated local theatre group HuM on TV screens," she said.

"We are excited to bring theatre to TV for the first time in the Asia-Pacific region and first time on Zee TV APAC.

"HuM is hugely successful and has delivered entertaining productions to audiences in Singapore. The added advantage is its great connect with Indian audiences even outside Singapore.

"The content is relevant and relatable to the diaspora across the Asia-Pacific region. The plays will bring a fresh form of entertainment and content to Zee viewers.

"Daisy Irani is a name to reckon with in the media and entertainment industry in Singapore and within the Indian community. She comes with a strong TV background and understands the nuances of the medium well. Thanks to her rich TV experience, the adaptation of the plays for TV has been a seamless process."

TtoZee was conceptualised over the past few months to help the arts and theatre industry adapt to the current challenging times.

It gives theatre a new stage and allows Zee's viewers the chance to enjoy the reality of theatre in the comfort of their homes.

Zee TV APAC, which has its regional headquarters in Singapore, has been entertaining the South Asian diaspora and Malay audiences in the Asia-Pacific region over the past 15 years.

It reaches 17 countries in the Asia-Pacific region: Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

santosh@sph.com.sg

Show times (all at 3pm):

Aug 30 (Sunday): Being Mrs Gandhi

Sept 6 (Sunday): We Are Like This Only 2

Sept 13 (Sunday): Nagamandal

Sept 20 (Sunday): Here Comes the Bride

Zee TV is available on Starhub Ch 125 and Singtel Ch 646

"Daisy Irani is a name to reckon with in the media and entertainment industry in Singapore and within the Indian community. She comes with a strong TV background and understands the nuances of the medium well." - Mrs Tripta Singh, executive vice-president, Zee Network

"It is fabulous that we can take Singaporean theatre on a virtual tour of 17 Asian countries, to 9.6 million viewers." - Mrs Daisy Irani, local theatre personality

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