19 Nov 2018  |   03:47am IST

Setting the stage for tiatr

Stage sets or set designs form an integral part of a tiatr. Without stage sets or light designs, a tiatr would look incomplete and it would automatically fail to receive audience appeal. Narayan Kamlakant Chari has made a name for himself doing just that
Setting the stage for tiatr

Pio Esteves

To work on stage sets and execute them is an art. Those with an artistic background or mindset can help turn a tiatr into a beautiful presentation with the help of stage sets that are suitable to that particular situation or scene.Initially, after trying his hand at decorations and sound system for various festive occasions and cultural programmes, Narayan Kamlakant Chari, popularly known as Kapil among the tiatr fraternity, took up the business of stage sets in earnest.

Born on August 8, 1981 and brought up in Baman Bhatt, Merces, Kapil Chari would initially assist his father, late Kamlakant Chari, in stage sets. Forty years ago, his father used to work on the stage sets for ‘nattaks’ in villages.

“My father never looked for monetary gains,” reveals Kapil, “but would always enjoy working on good stage sets.He was more of a workaholic than a business-minded man.”      

Way back when the Mumbai tiatr directors would come down to Goa with their productions, they would carry with them the stage sets as those sets were easily available in Mumbai due to mass presentation of ‘nattaks’. “Later, when those tiatr directors like Prem Kumar and C Alvares came to know about my father as stage sets designer, they approached him and he willingly assisted them,” he further reveals.

Whenever Kamlakant would move about in villages and cities assisting various tiatr directors with their respective productions, Kapil would accompany his father and lend a helping hand. “But that assistance was never with a serious mind,” he quips.

After Kamlakant passed away on May 1, 2014, Kapil realised the value of the tedious task his father had taken up for several years and following in his father’s footsteps, he shouldered the responsibility single-handedly. Brushing aside the business of decorations and sound system, he decided to work on stage sets and put his heart and soul into his father’s business.

Since 2014, Kapil has been handling the stage sets for various noted directors like Prince Jacob, Mario Menezes, Roseferns, John D’Silva and several others. Replying to a query, he said that after his father’s demise, when he shouldered the responsibility of stage sets, it was difficult to work on the nuances, but gradually, through trial and error, things started falling in place.

Kapil has no formal training with regard to stage sets or designs, but skills in carpentry and painting of curtains he acquired from his late father. “Tiatr directors continued flocking our residence with their new productions, even after the demise of my father. It was only a matter of studying the theme and executing the stage sets,” he states.

With regard to striking a balance between his earlier business and the trade of his father, Kapil mentions that the former simply required him to put up the deco and return home. But with the latter, he has to be there till the end of the show.

“In the rainy season, when a handful of tiatr directors come out with their new productions and a big cast, creation of new stage sets becomes a demanding task and the audience flock to view something new on stage, besides the talents of the artistes,” he mentions.

Likewise, when it comes to working on stage sets for the annual tiatr competitions and commercial tiatrs, Kapil says that in the former the tiatr fans are interested in watching the talents of amateurs on stage, besides the creativity in the stage sets, whereas in the latter the audience is not bothered in the stage sets, but prefer to watch tiatrs out of sheer entertainment, depending on the directors and the cast introduced in the tiatrs.

Elaborating on the initial planning involved and the execution of stage sets later, Kapil says that he first asks about the theme of the play and then works on the set designs accordingly. Stating an example, he recalls that when Mario Menezes approached him for his children’s tiatr, the director sought a school structure on stage with a second floor. “He explained to me that all his artistes were amateurs and if the tiatr runs, then it would be sheer luck.”During his spare time, He started working on the sets and within 10 days, the structure was ready. “It was more of collecting wood planks and cutting them,” he adds.

“Usually the tiatr directors come with their themes and put forth their demands related to bungalows or ordinary houses. The execution of stage sets for commercial tiatrs is much easy as compared to those tiatr presentations at the competition level,” he states.

Since the time he picked up the trade from his father, his enthusiasm has only grown and he enjoys working on the sets, with interest developing at every fold. He manages the entire show with merely two employees and when need arises, he employs a third.

For those who would like to venture into the business of stage setting, Kapil cautions, but is equally encouraging. He says that initially the task will be very challenging as damage to stage sets can cause a lot of embarrassment.“But some knowledge of carpentry can make the task much easier as you would not have to depend totally on the carpenter for rectifying the wrongs. Knowledge and creativity are equally important as they can help to please your customers,” he says.

“Themes, set up on the stage, entry and exit are some of the minute details about set designs,” he informs, adding “Care has to be taken in the utilisation of stage sets to the maximum as mere presentation will not helpor else it can go to sheer waste and unnecessary expenditure.”

With regard to the stage sets, while mere appreciation from the director and audience would suffice for his father, instead of monetary gains, Kapil believes that all hard work put in deserves a reward and he moves ahead in the same direction.

For all the efforts and hard work put into his stage sets, besides the monetary gains, Kapil has won prizes for Best Stage Sets for four consecutive years at the annual Popular Tiatr Competition organised by the Tiatr Academy of Goa. “But my biggest award is the satisfaction of the tiatr directors and appreciation from the audience,” he signs off.


Iddhar Udhar