Short and Sweet plays

The second edition of Short + Sweet Mumbai has just concluded, and the second day of the Gala Final had a curious mix of 10 minute plays. The only criteria to make it a short play here is the strict duration of 10 minutes. A standard play usually runs from anything between 1 to 2 hrs in length, so it is no mean challenge to squeeze your story in the time it may take you to switch off and boot your PC. Here is a brief review of the second day’s plays and what went on. Applause — Silly Point Productions The usual team of this production came up with an entertaining concept — the acceptable and outrageous behavior of the audience during a play. Good enough for a few laughs, but the subtlety of humor could have made it even better. Born Lucky — Akvarious Productions Better stuff was expected from a team known to have staged full length, large scale plays of some...
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Play – ‘Love on the brink’

Love on the brink is a tragi-comedy about three people and their quest for love, happiness and success in life. Overcoming adversities and trials to reach adulthood in varying degrees of material wealth and comfort, two school friends meet after a long gap at a sea promenade. Can love, with all its celebrated powers, breathe new life and change their prospects? Can it help a rich married couple survive divorce and live happily? These are some of the major questions of life and relationships explored in Primetime Theatre’s adaptation of Murray Schisgal’s script. Sudipto Bandopadhyay <‘Bandy’, played by Joy Sengupta>, orphaned in childhood and jobless for years, is about to take the plunge into the sea when his old school friend Pankaj Chopra <‘Chops’, Kumud Mishra>, now a rich and successful stock broker, pulls him back. Fifteen years have changed their fortunes for better and worse, and they go on to share their childhood trauma and career paths. Bandy, the...
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Play – Rafta Rafta

When dissected and examined like a dead frog, the Indian family will reveal an interesting array of strange yet familiar internal viscera. Akvarious has pulled the dead frog this time from a cool British pond and displayed it in full grandeur back home in the play Rafta Rafta (Slowly, slowly…) An overbearing father and mother from Punjab, and their band of relatives and friends go berserk on the son’s marriage, ignorantly strangulating the married couple’s own new, private life, to the extent that the latter can’t even…..consummate their marriage. Interesting facts and stories emerge out of closet from this absurd situation, that keep the audience glued to the proceedings. The trouble begins on the wedding day itself, when the father throws his wit and weight around, and picks up a fight with the son who surfs the net during celebrations and doesn’t like bhangra, an unpardonable cultural sin, comparable to not liking the plot of the Mahabharata. The disagreements between the two...
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Kissa yoni ka / Vagina Monologues – revisited

This play has been a part of the theatre circuit for quite sometime now. An adaptation of a US based play, the Hindi version doesn’t diverge too much from the original storyline, and adapts to the cultural milieu. There can be many reasons to watch these monologues. From a male perspective, there is however nothing much of value, nothing of any unique cultural interest either, to compel a second view. It’s just that the subject matter is worth a dead dodo – peculiar to be a theme for a book, story or play, but interesting only for its own sake. In a cultural context, it can only be a comedy or surgery. ...
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Manto’s Jeb Katara and Hatak

Mujeeb Khan has re-instated Manto back to where he belonged – Mumbai. The two plays take us admirably through the underbelly world of the city, without succumbing to stereotypes. This year is Manto’s 100th anniversary. Jeb Katara (pick-pocketeer) gives a bizarre twist to sincere intentions amidst the challenges of living a worthy life. So does Hatak (Sugandhi), which reveals human aspirations that refuse to die in the grim realities of a red light district. Manto’s world as depicted in the two short skits is the omnipotent present. His morality has a fixed point – it recognises the ever-struggling human desires against the pull of the circumstances. His characters – Kashi, Sugandhi – are weak, if only because they are, like everyone else, answerable to their conscience. While some performances leave room to be filled, the two plays reveal a writer’s encounter with realities that can disturb when brought to the fore. Performance: At SAISA, Bandra (West) Date: May 13, 2012 ...
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Play Review – Khamosh

Review – Khamosh Vijay Tendulkar’s classic play ‘Shantata! Court Chalu Ahe’ (1967) may appear rather ‘heavy’ and going over the board in its treatment of women’s issues when seen in the more open atmosphere of today. But it is certainly not out of place or irrelevant. Revived by ank in Hindi as ‘Khamosh’ under the direction of Dinesh Thakur, the play manages to pin issues down to their very fundamentals, in the signature style of Tendulkar – a frank and brutal portrayal of social evils. Khamosh retells the story of Ms Leela Benare (played by Preeta Mathur), a teacher by profession and part of an amateur theatre group on its way to the countryside for a performance tour. The troup cooks up an imaginary play for rehearsal in the form of a court trial, which soon turns realistic, as her accusers, middle-class members of reputed professions, menace and persecute Ms Benare for infanticide and unwed motherhood. The ensuing ‘play’ within the play,...
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Chinta Chhod Chintamani – Play Review

Yatri’s Om Katare has tackled the age old issue of generation gap in this rather old play. This is the same group that performed Ravanleela last year, which attracted some unwanted controversy due solely to its name. CCC is the story of Chintamani, the 40s something father to an aspiring actor, a cricket player and a swami-infatuated girl. The plot includes a prominent role for the grandfather too, who takes up rotational residences with his three sons. This is a traditional family of the 90s, and if you have outgrown your teenage years, the topics, conversations and attitudes would surely make you feel deja vu. A play like this must be situated in its cultural milieu, and the phrase ‘generation gap’ itself is one that serves as a dilution of the larger issues at stake – the clash between the experienced old and the new but raw aspirations. More than that, we must keep in mind the ultimate aim – of keeping...
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Natak Achha Hai, Zaroor Dekhna

Sometimes a low-budget production can entertain and educate more with its directedness and relevance than some other lavish plays. With this play, Rang Nirvana Theatre, which did a wonderful job with its last performance, ‘Saiyyan bhaye Kotwal’, has returned to stage with biting poetry, a socio-political message, and some candid performances. The play, directed by Rakesh Sharma, is a set of three short skits, all performed by Nauman Sarwat Azam and Abhijit Agarwala, and each introduced by a poetical prelude. The poet (Puneet Sharma) introduces us to the true meaning of art, by comparing poems with crops grown by poor farmers. Contrast amorous hearts with empty utensils, white pigeons with red seeds, true love with fake encounters and judge whether the art you admire stands on solid ground. The first skit presents before us a unique dilemma – a sowing machine’s needle breaks every time the machine is run. Shall we repair the machine, or keep changing needles? We know the commonsense...
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Ok Tata Bye Bye

Ok Tata Bye Bye The title of this play will be all too familiar to Indians and especially foreign tourists, who often wonder what this combination of familiar words, found painted on truck rears, could mean. In this play, written by Purva Naresh and directed by Rabijita Gogoi, the words take on a meaning larger than a mere chance association. The goods carrying trucks speeding on the highways of interior India are a source of money making, the age old way, for some communities thriving on prostitution. The dhabas (roadside eateries), Sardar (Sikh) drivers, and the famous title phrase are now the stuff of popular culture. Lesser known is the existence of the communities, whose girls, often minors, would have carried on their profession unknown to the rest of the world, had the spread of AIDS not brought them into the radar of NGOs.   The play takes off from the perspective of two documentary makers, Pooja (Ahlam Khan Karachiwala) and the foreigner Mitch...
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Preth Play Review

Though we live in modern times, native wit and wisdom strikes a deeper chord within us when used to tell stories, such as ‘Preth’, written (with Naresh Saxena) and directed (with Gopal Tewari) by Purva Naresh. A simple folktale tells the story of how a goddess agreed to follow a small tribal king as long as he did not turn around to look back at her, which would turn her into a statue. He eventually does, tricked by her silence, and thus begins the history of a small tribal kingdom and its ignorant and superstitious people, ruled by an autocrat, on whose cry of ‘murtivat’ they must turn into lifeless statues in order to pay respect to their goddess. One of them is Alha (Rahul Sharma), living with his wife Lachhi (Trishla Patel). Alha must run for his life, as he has witnessed the killing of a beggar who dared to move during one of the ‘murtivat’ moments, when the courtiers turn...
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