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Thursday, December 12, 2013


Coming to the Catalina Theatre is Bhagwan Gave Me This Life, a play in Hindi set in 1981. A widower, Balram, engages his only company, a bird, to tell the story of how he came to be in his lonely state. He reminisces his colourful past, his marriage, his life as a corporation worker and he plays out the characters amidst song and dance.

Balram’s wife Lalita was introduced to him via a family arrangement by two acentric aunties from Ottawa and Inanda. The proudest of his family was his brother, Sukhram, who involved himself in the wedding. The brothers shared a very tight bond that lasted until the bitter end. The plot of the play centres on the couple’s inability to have a child at first. Balram’s parents long for a grandchild until years later, a son is born.

The play is mainly in Hindi and was written by Vivian Moodley who has an illustrious resume in the performance arts on every known medium.

“This is South Africa’s first Hindi cultural production,” Moodley explains. “Yet it is designed to be accessible to all. The story is specific to the time and area; and if you are from that generation it will bring back memories, make you laugh and drop a tear. If not, then it will give you a sense of history and entertain you.

“The traditional values of an old community, the wooden iron house, the nostalgia of the music we listened to and spiritual guidance instilled in us over the years come to the fore in this dramatization of our inner wars,” he adds. “Balram is not a person who is disillusioned by life. He is not robbed of anything. He has not hurt anyone to repent; nor has he ever deprived anybody of their rights; yet life has not dealt him the right cards. When does good Karma step in and give you your dues? Does it ever? Do we go back on our advice to others and, if so; under what circumstances?”

Accomplished character actor Pranesh Maharaj plays Balram in this one-man piece which demands his versatile skills as an actor as well as a musician and singer. There is also some dance to complete his contribution to an exciting trip down memory lane.

Bhagwan Gave Me This Life runs from December 16 to 22 at Catalina Theatre on Wilson’s Wharf. Booking is at Computicket.