It is 5 a.m. Three friends are holed up in a seedy motel just off the Bombay-Pune Highway. They are tired and scared. Stuck far away from civilization, their phone networks are jammed, their car doesn’t work, the phone in the room rings intermittently but no one is on the other end, a sinister waiter keeps intruding and the girl they had packed off reappears.
Based on a true-life incident, Pune Highway is a taut comic thriller. Filled with tension, nostalgia and humour, the play explores the survival of friendship in extreme circumstances and the tensions lurking beneath deceptive camaraderie.
The play was written by writer-director Rahul da Cunha for the prestigious new writing festival Writer’s Bloc (held in collaboration with the Royal Court, UK) and premiered in 2004. It went on to tour all the major theatre centres in India and was subsequently invited to the Biennale Bonn Festival of India in 2006, followed by Amsterdam, Antwerp, Malaysia and most recently London. This tour celebrates its hundredth performance.
Internationally the play has been highly appreciated as it represents the new and cutting edge voice of modern Indian playwriting. This is what Yasmin Alibhai-Brown had to say in The Independent, UK “The actors brilliantly play three friends with no moral compass. Their crude, pared down English lacks compassion or grace and becomes a metaphor for India’s fast, thoughtless and furious globalisation. It is as powerful and challenging as Look Back In Anger must have been in 1956, or Pinter’s early work. It is English again, breaking out and starting out a new trajectory in its unending history.”
And this appeared in the Bonn press, “The forcefully directed piece hides a quiet, exciting story about friendship and betrayal, courage and mistrust…nobody is without fault – nobody has any scruples to start the ball rolling.”
The Indian press added to this calling it “A roller-coaster ride…you do not know what is going to hit you next-nail-biting suspense, mudslinging or unadulterated comedy.” and “A tight script laced with pun, wit and dark humour”
Written and Directed by Rahul da Cunha
The Cast: Rajit Kapur, Ashwin Mushran, Yamini Namjoshi, Shankar Sachdev & Bugs Bhargava Krishna
Light Design: Pushan Kripalani & Arghya Lahiri
Set Design:Nikhil Khadilkar & Vinesh Iyer
Sound Design: Mahesh Tinaikar
On Lights: Arghya Lahiri
On Sound: Nadir Khan
Production Controller: Shernaz Patel