Why does every word from a dictator’s mouth reek of sweet persuasion? The Curious Climb of Cutter Chee, a play by the students of The Drama School, Mumbai (DSM), explores society’s obedience to unworthy and often dangerous figures of authority.
The play is inspired by Bertolt Brecht’s The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui. Brecht’s play, written during World War II, interrogated Hitler’s rise to power. Along with director Ben Samuels, seven students from DSM rewrote the script to create a Bollywood-style, gangster spectacle. The play is about Cutter Chee, a petty crook who plays dirty to control Mumbai’s development sector. With the help of his band of chamchas, Chee ‘relocates’ slum-dwellers, promising them houses in shiny new buildings.
When we first meet Chee, he is clumsy and unremarkable. With the help of his partner in crime Roma, he transforms into an intimidating figure, one who has engineered death and destruction to gain money and influence. Through the course of Chee’s journey, we meet a range of laughable characters — a gullible politician, Dogeshwar; a dutiful and formidable cop, DC Pandey; a dumb-witted hooker, Daisy; a smooth-talking conman, Gulaal; a shrewd and unrelenting CEO, Ms. Bedi and several heckling journalists and disgruntled lawyers. The play stages wickedly familiar scenes incorporating court room manipulations, slum fires, hotel rooms, dingy bars and tiresome press conferences.
The play will be performed along with another DSM production, Tartuffe, a new Hindi adaptation of Moliere’s most famous comedy, which exposes our overdependence on God-men.
When May 21-22
Where NCPA, Nariman Point
— Naintara Rana