Hungry Hearts by Sohaila Charnalia

It all began the day the four of us sat down to complain. Two of us had lives beating us down….anti-stress pills, rebellious kids, struggles to put in place careers that would have been easier to handle had we been men, or simply, if we had decided to compromise ourselves. The third grumbled about the tight family bonds that were strangulating her. While the fourth was fighting to keep her partner from straying. All of us badly needed a break from the whirlpool of inane activity that we called life.
`Let’s do a play’, one of us shouted…..

…..It seemed a good way out and we clinked our beer glasses in unison. `F…the world’ the second one shouted, `if the world wants a performance, we’ll give them one’. The other two agreed and a pact was signed and sealed that night.
The Hungry Heart Theatre Group was born that day. Why did we give ourselves that strange name? Because we were bleeding hearts, hungering for some real action. And theatre, cathartic as it was, gave us that. That was in 2005 and we’re still going strong.
People wonder how we haven’t fizzled out in an age of break-ups, when individual egos dominate over group loyalty. And my answer is that we sincerely believe in unity in diversity, which has helped us survive. Each one of us brings a different talent to the group and that is what makes it tick.
We do have our disagreements and creative battles where we fiercely defend our respective turfs . We even lost a founder member who had to return to England because of visa problems, but hey, we’re still around and hope to be for a long time to come. And even though we’ve held grand festivals in conjunction with our partner, The Hindustan Times since 2005 (only missed out on the 2008 one, because of the economic crunch, when sponsors fled the scene), we’ve still a long way to go.
Apart from the festival, where we invited other groups to perform, we’ve also been holding one-off shows, which are usually written and directed by one of us. One of them was a musical, that pays tribute to India’s entertainment hub, Mumbai, and its industry, Bollywood. What could be a more cathartic experience for work tired brains than a song and dance extravaganza, in other words, a Bollywood film unraveling on stage? With the advantage of being live? And `Mahim Junction’ was born!
The musical held its premiere in India on Dec 5. Uncannily, some of the incidents in the story, written initially in 1997, have actually played out in Mumbai post 2003, including the serial blasts. In that sense, the musical also works as a tribute to the resilient spirit of Mumbai.
Repeat shows in Delhi are on April 18 and 19, 2009, at the Epicentre (at Apparel House), in Gurgaon and on May 1, 2009, at the India Islamic Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.
To check out the musical’s history, awards, press reviews in the UK and India and its photo album, go to

5 thoughts on “Hungry Hearts by Sohaila Charnalia

  1. It’s that hunger in the Hungry Heart that made them kick off to a great start. And I love musicals, they give a complete soul satisfying experience. Wish them success in their future endeavours.

  2. Yes, musicals. i wonder why this genre has disappeared from Indian urban theatre. of course, it is still alive and kicking in folk theatre in rural and small town india. there were very evocative, beautiful musicals on the urban stage, right up to the 50s. whereas the tradition survived in films (and how!) it completely disappeared from the stage in india. attempting to revive that…and hoping to succeed. if anybody is interested in partnering with us, contact us at at least begin the movement by coming and seeing our two productions, `mahim junction’, about which you have read in this very blog and `rubaru: raj & kapur in russia’, which is a film theatre production, that essentially marries film, musical theatre and reality television together, in a rare, new experiment.
    `raj & kapur in russia’ is the story of a group of stage performers travelling within russia and getting stranded in the gobi desert. surrounded by their paraphernalia, they hover between fantasy and reality, while waiting for that elusive help to arrive. in between they discover some home truths, that change their lives forever.

  3. Hi there to whom so ever it may concern i am doing theater and its been 1 year now i stay in Delhi and i want to join your group so could you please help me in understanding the procedure or criteria to join please
    Thanks & Regards
    Shanki Gupta.

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