Even before the term globalisation was coined, the city of Mumbai had neighbourhoods that were multicultural and yet lived in complete harmony. Director-actor Akshay Shimpi's upcoming play Mumbai – The City United, cashes on that beautiful diversity that has now become the nerve of the city. Shimpi says, "As an artist and Mumbaikar, we love this city. It inspires us. Many artists have expressed how the city has served as their muse. Their love has found shape in their respective art form. We have compiled their literature, poems, articles, paintings, plays and songs in this play as a tribute to our beloved city." The play has stitched together songs, skits and readings of stories from the glorious past of the city's literature.
Shimpi and his team acquired works of renowned artists in various languages. When asked why he chose to go with a multilingual play, he says, "Thanks to its cosmopolitan nature, Mumbai, over the years, has developed its own language. In fact, it has its own dialect, and there's also Hindi, which is spoken across the country. Using multiple languages was one way to reflect the true spirit of the city."
Shimpi and Dhanashree Khandkar who have written and performed the play
The cast will be performing songs by yesteryear folk artists such as Vasant Bapat, Anna Bhau Sathe, Patthe Bapu Rao to name a few. Their songs talk about various historical movements in the city such as the shutting down of mills, for instance. These verses have been woven into the script that touches upon the culinary and architectural heritage, festivals and even the city's underbelly.
Shimpi believes that Mumbai is so vast and varied, everyone has a different interpretation of what the city means to them. As for him, he says, "Whenever I'm asked to describe the city, I take reference from the folktale where seven blind men were asked to describe an elephant. For someone, it was a long tube (trunk) while for someone else it was a curtain like a flap (ear). For me, Mumbai is that elephant's stomach. It is so big that it can always accommodate everyone."
When: January 27, 7 pm
Where: Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Charni Road, Kele Wadi, Girgaon
Entry: Rs 150