Hardeep gives The Miser a makeover

Hardeep Singh Kholi, performing at Stratford Circus.

Hardeep Singh Kholi, performing at Stratford Circus. - Credit: Archant

Readers may have seen Hardeep Singh Kohli from current affairs programmes such as BBC’s Question Time, This Week with Andrew Neil, and the One Show.

Kanjoos the Miser at Stratford Circus from March 7 to 9.

Kanjoos the Miser at Stratford Circus from March 7 to 9. - Credit: Archant

But his latest venture has seen Hardeep transform himself into a theatrical writer to adapt The Miser, a classic 17th century play by French satirist Moliere.

Only, in Hardeep’s version - co-written with Tara Arts’ Jatinder Verma - the title is translated into Kanjoos and it stars Harjinder in the eponymous role, giving the whole production a South Asian makeover.

He said: “I am rubbish with money because I never have any, that’s the problem. Harjinder is very unlike me.

“But in a funny way, he is the most honest person in the play and all the other characters are quite duplicitous.”

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Harjinder takes Gandhi’s principles of raw frugality and only necessary food and clothing quite literally.

Hardeep said: “It’s a social satire about French culture in Moliere’s society, looking at the worship of money and the man whose life is completely defined by money.

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“In South Asian culture, and Punjabi culture especially, it moves in a different way to Western culture.

“Romeo & Juliet, for example, still means something to an Indian audience because it wasn’t all that long ago that families were feuding over the same things.

“With the West, they are moving away from this issue. Often, if you remove the play away from its original context, you get to see it differently.”

Kanjoos the Miser has been touring the UK for two weeks but its only London dates are at Stratford Circus - a convenient location for Hardeep who lives with his family in Hackney.

He said: “I live nearby so I’m really excited about working in Stratford.

“What has happened in the last year in Stratford has really put it on the map. It was always a hugely multicultural area but it seems to have something else now as well.

“It’s not often you will see a brown cast performing. It’s really great that we’ve got to a point where there are not only plays that these actors can be in but we actually had a choice for each part that we wanted to cast.”

A man of many talents, Hardeep also wrote the lyrics for the musical numbers that run throughout the play.

Hardeep said: “It’s a really funny play, there are a lot of gags in it. It’s really been updated.

“I’ve been astonished at the audience numbers in places like Windsor or Dundee, for example.

“It’s full of music, the movement’s great in it, and it’s full of colour so we’ve been getting really mixed audiences including people who don’t normally go to the theatre.”

As a community theatre, Stratford Circus has invited a couple of school groups to see Kanjoos, a great challenge according to Hardeep.

He said: “Children are the best critics. If they don’t like it, they will let you know about it.

“I am really keen to get kids into theatre. If you get them into it at a young age, you can really make a difference.

“If there’s one kid in one performance that has their life changed as a result, then we have made the world a better place.”

Kanjoos the Miser is playing at Stratford Circus, Theatre Square, Stratford, E15 from March 7 to 9.

Evening performances on Thursday and Friday are discounted for Newham residents at £9 best available seats.

Visit www.stratford-circus.com or call the box office on 0855 357 2625.

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