Anand Express: Three friends embark on a journey through grief, guilt, love and adventure

 “Anand was the only dancer in our group. His dance used to make everyone smile. But did you see the way they did his funeral? But now it’s time, it’s time to take Anand to Anand”.

In the silence begins the play, a dark stage and a short video of four college friends Wasim, Kenny, Neeraj and Anand during happier days. The video needs no ambience sound as the four faces themselves speaks of the happiness they have in each other’s company, setting the tone of what’s coming next a story of three friends set on to give a perfect adieu to their deceased friend-Anand, who always wanted to visit the Milk city of Gujarat, to be Anand in Anand.

The play opens with the three Bandra boys introducing us to their world of friendship. As they say, they are opposite of each other, ek dum alag and different from them was, Anand. The connecting factor in this group. One who was liked by all.

(Though the Anand is dead, his ghost is as alive as possible throughout)

“In fact, Anand was the only dancer in our group. His dance used to make everyone smile. But did you see the way they did his funeral? But now, it’s time- it’s time to take Anand to Anand”, says Neeraj.

With the death of Anand begins the journey of the play, Anand Express based on the much-loved book Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray, Anand Express has been adapted by Akarsh Khurana, directed by Nadir Khan and produced by Rage Productions. The play has an Indian flavor with a touch of Bandra.

The boys manage to pick the urn by misleading Anand’s father and run as fast as they can to catch the train to their destination. “But first, let’s switch off our phones so that our parents don’t reach us” says, Neeraj.  And, so starts the adventure too. The ticket brought by Kenny is to a different destination. But that’s worked upon.

As they settle down, the conversation among the friends begin like any group of friends on a trip. They discuss everything under the roof from Anand’s beautiful sister, to how they were not there when Anand needed them and understanding if Anand was in depression. Until they meet girls in the same coach. With no place to stay and empty pockets, the girls decide to be a help, by finding an accommodation, which is not less than a haunted palace. Accompanied by heavy rain, an idol of a headless king appearing from nowhere and, no electricity (apart a torch), the boys somehow manage to spend their night.

The mission sees many ups and downs, running away from home with cops in their lookout, the journey finally ends with the three friends on a highway, scattering the ashes of their friend Anand, the play takes an emotional turn.

In one hour 30 mins of power packed performance you don’t get a single second that diverts your attention to anything else than the play.  The girls they meet, the character of the parents and teachers and all those they encounter on the journey are impeccably worn by the four boys itself. You can’t figure when they are in a different character as they wear their properties. The story is relatable, the friendship is clearly seen and the actors- Sukant Goel, Vivaan Shah, Siddharth Kumar and Chaitanya Sharma are just at their best.

The stage

Designed by Fali Unwalla, the stage looks like a Rubik cube with a rugged feel to it, giving out a live-action visual impact. Rock Music and Video clips being played on the rubik blocks makes it to be a perfect set for a play around the lives of youngsters.

According to the Artistic Director, Divya Bhatia, “Anand Express is a distinctive, coming-of-age story for young people… an unusual and intense telling of a not-so-unusual friendship among a group of young men. The play is remarkable in that it laces youthful guilt with tension and humour, making for a light-hearted yet emotional journey that is compelling and insightful. There are fun and pathos, euphoria and drama.”

While the play is about the journey, these friends undertake, their personal transformation and that of their friendship plays a central role in the plot. Adapted for the Indian audiences by AK Various’ Akarsh Khurana, the play promises to be amusing and thought-provoking in equal measure.

Says director Nadir Khan, “Anand Express has quite a few layers to it. At its core though, it’s really about the exuberance of youth, friendship, loss and growing up. It’s quite a delicate balance, as those years of our lives are. My primary focus with any text and especially this one—since it’s so different from anything I’ve done—is to be as true to those characters as possible and just tell their story.”

This is the third-time Rage has been a part of the Aadyam repertoire, and second-time collaboration between Khan and the production house. True to Rage’s personality, Anand Express too sees the creation of quintessentially Mumbai characters. Rage, known for its highly identifiable characters, has quite the fan-following for its distinct style of theatre.

To put up a show like this together, the team definitely needs an applause from all.

Set Design: Fali Unwalla

Light Design & Execution: Arghya Lahiri

Video Content Director: Pushan Kripalani

Video Content Producer: Final Call Productions

Illustrations – TRIP Creative Services

Music Composition & Design: Kaizad Gherda

Costume Design: Malaika Choudhury & Aashima Belapurkar

Visual Architect – Percival Crasto, Pixelight 

Set Execution: Ashok Panchal, Kalakruti
Production Controller: Ayaz Ansari
Production Manager: Nikita Teresa Sarkar
On projection and Sound: Varrunn Bangera
Make Up: Nandu Wadke
Administration: Pratibha Sinai



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