The performance is based on a single meeting between a woman journalist and Arun Kolatkar, one of the finest contemporary poets of India, at a restaurant in Kolatkar's favourite Kala Ghoda area in old Mumbai. Years after that meeting, when the journalist learns of Kolatkar's death, she recalls how she first heard of the man in her girlhood, read his poems in her college days, and how deeply they affected her perspective. She traces the events that led to her encounter with the reclusive man, and relives her interview with him. As they talk, the poems come alive and are performed against a soundscape of music. Their talk begins with wariness and some suspicion, but ends on a moment of intimacy.
Dark Horse uses 10 poems by Kolatkar. Some are abridged or excerpted. They are not 'recited', but assimilated into the performance as inter-textual material. Each poem is treated differently, according the mood that may be flippant, grave or whimsical. Each poem carries the action and the emotion forward. All are banked with music. Some are juxtaposed with lines from older poets of the Bhakti Movement, like Tukaram and Mirabai.
The play has been performed in thirty different venues around India, winning two Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards in 2006 - Best Sound Design and a special commendation for Best Play.
“Gowri Ramnarayan's skilful dramaturgy brings alive before us the incisive irony and deep compassion of one of India's finest poets who wrote both in Marathi and English”
Shyam Benegal, Film Maker
“Director-scriptwriter Gowri Ramnarayan's triumph lay in the fact that after the show, most people exited the auditorium making a mental note: buy Arun Kolatkar's poetry, further acquaintance with this powerhouse poet”
The Hindu, November 2006
“Gowri Ramnarayan has certainly kept a cerebral audience in mind while directing the play. She serves hints of history, literature, mythology and politics in one platter. Yet you don't get saddled with facts.”
The Hindustan Times, November 2006
“Dark Horse has one of the freshest scripts one has come across in a long time. It is fluid, imaginative, witty and comes complete with a rich, wide-ranging musical score which is like a parallel script. Savita Narasimhan's singing, Dhritiman Chaterji's performance, and the playful energy the rest of the cast bring to this production, make it an immensely enjoyable and deeply moving theatrical experience.”
Times of India, April 2011