Gauhar Jaan – The Datia Incident is a historical re-imagining of a key part in the remarkable story of India’s first recording artist. It follows young American recording engineer Fred Gaisberg (Jordon Kemp) journey to India to record Gauhar Jaan (Sheetal Kapoor) acclaimed voice for the British Gramophone Company. On his journey, he is told about The Datia Incident, a tale of scandal surrounding Gauhar Jaan and the ninth Maharaja of Datia, Bhawani Singh Bahadur (Harmage Singh Kalirai), from several perspectives.
The play combines sharp and often playful interaction between characters, luscious set & costume design and spellbinding traditional dancing.
The traverse staging implemented for the production really lends itself to the immersive quality of the performance. The audience is transported directly into the retelling of the incident, with the cast members giving stellar performances that really bring the story to life.
The play is enthralling from start to finish. Those watching are left with a sense that there is much more to the history of Gauhar Jaan than this one incident and there is an immediate thirst to delve deeper when it’s all over. Luckily, the accompanying exhibition in the Omnibus Theatre foyer allows visitors to do just that, going further in depth on Gauhar Jaan’s legacy and the role of female courtesans in India, so make sure to take advantage of this while you’re visiting.
The play is running at the Omnibus Theatre, Clapham until April 29 2018.
Director: Mukul Ahmed
Writer and Music Director: Tarun Jasani
Set designer: Sophie Jump
Lighting designer: Paul Micah
Choreographer: Arunima Kumar
Photograph courtesy of Tarun Jasani featuring Sheetal Kapoor as Gaurhar Jaan and Jorden Kemp as Fred Gaisberg
Review by Callum Galbraith