Home / Culture / #Bendakaluru: Girish Karnad’s acclaimed ‘Boiled Beans on Toast’ hits London

#Bendakaluru: Girish Karnad’s acclaimed ‘Boiled Beans on Toast’ hits London

After giving the still-insanely attractive Richard Gere the run around in The Second Best Exotic Marigold, the equally-insanely attractive Lilette Dubey is set to return to the UK stage, this time as a Director, with Primetime Theatre Company’s ‘Boiled Beans on Toast’.

Despite the reference to the bland staple of many a British kitchen, the play is set in Bangalore and explores the challenges faced by those living in the fast-modernizing technology hub.

Written by the Oxford don and acclaimed playwright Girish Karnad, the play follows the lives of six people from across the Indian social spectrum. 

Performed in English, the characters include a grand-mother who discovers a passion for horse racing; a not very bright maid who learns to answer back and a bored-housewife who fulfils herself by undertaking charity work.

The cast features the best talent from Indian stage and screen including Joy Sengupta, Meenal Patel, Deepika Amin, Avantika Akerkar, Maneesh Verma, Swati Das and Avnish Mehra.

Boiled Beans on Toast had its Indian premier in April 2014 and subsequently toured the country, receiving much acclaim.

The title is an allusion to the modern name of Bangalore – Bengaluru.

According to folklore, 12th Century Kannada monarch Veera Ballala II was out hunting in the forest one day when he became lost.  After wandering around for miles, the king happened upon a woman who lived in the forest and who offered him ‘Benda Kulu’ or boiled beans. 

On that day King Ballala is said to have named the spot Bendakaluru (city of baked beans) which eventually became the sprawling metropolis of today. 

Whilst the city may have been christened eight centuries ago it has really come to its own in the past two decades just as India’s tech industry took off.

Karnad however, does not focus on the city’s tech story, instead exploring the lives of ordinary people who live on the fringes of the IT industry but whose lives are impacted by Bengaluru’s success.

Last year, Karnad told the Hindu newspaper that he was “interested in capturing this sense of parallel things happening, where narratives impinge on each other but then they move on”.

It is an appealing premise, one which is in the exceptionally skilled hands of Lilette Dubey who founded the Primetime Theatre Company in 1991. 

As Artistic Director of Primetime she has directed over 28 productions.

‘Boiled Beans on Toast’ is at Watermans Theatre, West London from 10 March to 15 March. 

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