City Hangout – Theater Traffic Circle, Mandi House
An unusual playhouse.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A handful of traffic circles in central Delhi have become something more than just that.
The circle on Janpath is a sprawling garden with trees teeming with bats. While another circle nearby proudly sports the city’s tallest fountain (both have been featured on this page).
But perhaps the circle at Mandi House takes the prize. At the start of the evening rush hour, as the day’s heat recedes, it turns into an unofficial stage hosting a multitude of plays—almost like a theatre festival.
The culprit is the prestigious National School of Drama just across the road, which has produced some of India’s finest actors. This evening sees a woman emoting so naturally beside a flower hedge in the traffic island that one wonders if she’ll be the next Naseeruddin Shah—the film star is an alumnus of the aforementioned institution.
Mandi House encompasses a theatre district where many would-be thespians are hanging around the circle, probably fishing for a part in a play. Like that young man in white T-shirt who’s acting all by himself and so unconsciously. A few steps away, a bunch of people are performing drama exercises. While a group of actors are sitting on the grass and going over a script. Some others are practising dance movements in slow motion: oblivious to the smog and rampant traffic. And over this corner, a woman is embracing a man. No, they aren’t one of those Delhi’s garden couples. This is the early rehearsal of Bina Diwaron Ke, a play that will open in Akshara theatre in November.
And there, under a tree, a solo gentleman is reciting his lines for a play.
A few more hours and the circle finally empties of future’s possible legends: until tomorrow evening and most evenings after that.
The traffic circle is a stage