His world is a stage – for 360 hours

By Azera Rehman, IANS

New Delhi : Living in a glasshouse can be fun, but allowing the world to watch you live in one is another matter. Yet, Harish Khanna has put his daily life up on show as part of a theatre festival.

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The National School Of Drama (NSD) alumnus Khanna is living in a glasshouse at the Bharat Rang Mahotsav festival organised by the institute. He will stay there for 360 hours.

Padded with the basic amenities and some comfort too, like a toilet and an attached bath with frosted glass, geyser, a refigerator, his personal wardrobe, bed and chairs complete with a vibrant shade of linen, the glasshouse has everything.

Khanna also has access to his mobile phone and laptop.

The concept of this installation is that if living alone in a private space and day-to-day activities are monotonous, then why not obvert it and live happily in a public or transparent space.

Deprived of human touch and under constant public glare, Khanna, who moved into his new home Jan 3, the day NSD kicked off its 50th anniversary celebrations, is attracting quite a crowd. The bizarre experiment can be called “reality meets theatre”.

A.K. Barua, who is associated with the NSD, said he had never seen any “production like this” in the past 28 years.

“I have been observing Harish and have realised that he is not talking to anyone for some time now. It is a challenge to let the world intrude into private space,” Barua told IANS.

“In London and in most parts of Europe, this kind of performances are common, when actors set themselves up in a public space like a mall or continue their day-to-day activity in full public view. But here, this is the first time such a show is taking place.

“Big Brother”, a domestic reality show on TV produced by Channel 4, was one such show that generated heat and scaled the popularity charts.

Barua, however, added that there is a tiny window in one corner of the house. But viewers are not allowed to talk to Khanna through it.

Everything in the glass apartment, from the colour of the cushions to the furniture arrangement, was meticulously planned and “deliberate”.

Robin Das, a professor at the NSD, said: “Theatre is redefining itself. There’s a time limit, a space and an audience.”

The reaction from the crowd has been mixed. Some people are hoping that Khanna is not feeling claustrophobic.

“If I were him, I would have been claustrophobic in that space! I hope he doesn’t feel so. There is still a long time to go before he can come out of confinement,” said Adesh Sharma, a college student, who came to the festival.

In an attempt to make the session more interactive, the audience can be a part of the installation Jan 19 and 20 for two hours. Those interested in being a part of the production can e-mail at [email protected].

The NSD festival, on till Jan 20, will stage 76 plays in 17 days, of which 19 are foreign productions. Countries like Pakistan, Switzerland, Poland, Afghanistan, China, Britain, Sri Lanka and Japan are participating in the festival.