Telugu play ‘Rallu Etthani Coolielu’: A satire on corrupt modern times


Adapted from the hugely popular “Taj Mahal ka Tender”, the play shows what happens if Shah Jahan builds the Taj Mahal in 2021

The telougou piece Rallu Etthani Coolielu uses wit, humor and sarcasm to fight corruption in society. Adapted by Suma Pamidigantam from the popular Hindi play Taj Mahal Ka Tender by playwright Ajay Shukla, the Telugu version was designed and directed by Nagaraju Pejjai for the Hyderabad-based Samahaara theater group. The play creates a hypothetical situation – what if Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan wanted to build a Taj Mahal for his beloved queen in 2021?

The play with 14 artists will be conducted by two narrators. The story goes that the emperor summons an engineer to create a plan for the monument. “But how can a construction project start without an office,” asks the engineer and convinces the emperor to wait until the office is ready. It takes five years for the office to be completed, and then the plan for the monument takes off, ”Nagaraju explains.

Nagaraju Pejjai

Nagaraju promises a lot of humor with scenes involving King Aurangazeb calling it “a waste project” on social media, but Jahanaara gives an appropriate response. He continues, “The bureaucratic red tape continues with corrupt entrepreneurs, politicians and even a pollution officer calling the Taj, a gas-emitting factory with towers. Shah Jahan dies and the monument is never built, but the team saves the tender to prosecute the corruption.

This is the second production rehearsal at Samahaara’s workshop which lasted two months. “The team is excited because we are doing a live performance after more than 15 months,” he shares.

The piece brings together professionals from different backgrounds. While UX designers Subendra Koganti and Anirudh Penu play Shah Jahan and the Chief Engineer respectively, model and actor Farida Yousuf plays Mumtaz.

The telougou piece

Rallu Etthani Coolielu stays true to the original, except for a brief conversation between Shah Jahan and Mumtaz. “We added this piece because two actresses had joined the workshop,” Nagaraju explains.

Theatrical rehearsals were also changed as the actors could not do all of the activities in a post Covid scenario. “The workshop’s production schedule had to be reorganized and group activities reduced to comply with safety protocols; we had to give up team-building games and understanding body exercises, ”he reveals.

Having conducted 25 pieces to date, Nagaraju calls this production a unique experience. “The preparation of this piece is a mixture of emotions. We are excited but we must also be on constant alert. But we are happy to come back on stage with a piece that makes us laugh. Laughter is always the best medicine, especially in these difficult times, ”he concludes.


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