Based on the play by Donald Margulies
Directed by Feroz Khan
Starring: Tisca Chopra, Vinay Jain, Perizaad Zorabian Irani and Joy Sengupta
This is not going to be a review review. You know the kind where the reviewer has a background of theatre to refer to, and has benchmarks by which to evaluate performances and direction, etc, because, hold your breath, this has been the first play I have seen in 15 years. For someone who was part of the College Theatre Troupe and even won some random awards, Copwud being one I remember, as well as honourable mentions at Malhar and Mood Indigo, this has been a long hiatus from theatre in my life, and for reasons ranging from, ah, well, this is not the time to get into all that background, so will stick to the topic at hand, which is this play. Which, of course, I have heard a lot about, given it has been getting rave reviews whenever it has been performed.
Ergo, when the lovely Tisca Chopra invited me for a performance I was all set, the proverbial hair in a braid as my God, Plum Wodehouse would have said. I was joined by Parul Sharma and Shunali Shroff, both of whom did not require much convincing on my part to accompany me for the play, which only goes to speak volumes for the reputation this play has achieved.
The story, in a nutshell, is about two couples, Harsh and Dia and Maya and Vikram, who are friends over many years. Maya and Vikram have actually introduced Harsh and Dia and they have spent many a vacation and meal together and count each other as family. Over a dinner one night, Dia reveals that Harsh is leaving her for a travel agent/air hostess and this revelation shakes the friendship between the two couples. While Dia wrings her woman wronged act, Harsh speaks about how terrible it has been for him in a marriage where there has been no physical contact and no emotional intimacy. The play moves over a span of time, a flashback to when Dia and Harsh met first, to the end, where Dia and Harsh are both settling down with their new partners and where Maya and Vikram are questioning what their marriage is all about.
What impressed me most about the play was the internalisation of the characters you could see with both Tisca who played Dia, the frustrated artist, whose lack of success with her art had led her to alienate her spouse and the ebullience of Perizaad playing Maya, who was the perfect cook, the perfect hostess, the ideal ‘catch’ but who suffered from self doubt and wondering if there was more to a relationship than what she had with Vikram. Vikram, played by Joy Sengupta, might have had the best lines, but he was also the anchor of the play of sorts, his was the grounded perspective, the man who was committed to his family, to his marriage, who realises that people change, marriages might not be perfect but one sticks to the partner one has chosen and works things through.
The acting was smooth, internalised, and the two ladies, Tisca and Perizaad, were the perfect foils to each other. Likewise with Vinay Jain and Joy Sengupta. Though Sengupta’s lines got him most of the laughs, it was Jain’s character that got the wheels in ye olde cranium whirring.
Though the play would seem frothy and fun, thanks to the quick paced dialogue and the situational comedy resemblance in bits, but like the proverbial onion, the play has layers and layers and as it goes on the themes it touches on resonate deeply, making the viewer question all the things he or she holds good with regards to friendships, relationships, marriage, infidelity and so on. The realisation that friendships are based on certain dynamics and if these are unsettled, it unsettles the friendship, that no matter how well one thinks one knows someone, one might not always know the entire story of what happens between a couple, why couples drift apart.
These are people one knows, these are characters who hit close to him, one walks away thinking this could be me, this could be my story and I’m bleddy damned if I’m going to let the husband make the travel bookings now.
Seriously though, I might not be a seasoned theatre goer, but I enjoyed this play. Thoroughly. It did leave me a little weak kneed at the end. The husband got some thoroughly undeserved handholding, though I absolutely draw the line at the butt grabbing in public, no matter how exciting the Harsh character was about it. And of course, the shoes Perizaad wore, the shoes. I’m still salivating over those lemon wedgeheels. Ah well. That’s as deep as I can get.