Theatre Watch: "One Small Day"

I happened to catch a performance of One Small Day at NCPA. Not quite sure if it follows the mood of watching an idyllic sunset at Marine Drive with special someones, but the play was good in some parts, and average in some.

Backdrops first – Directed by Jayant Kripalani, Produced by Anish Trivedi, and enacted by Dipika Roy and Anish Trivedi himself, the play traces the interaction between two very different, yet similar people, caught in a room together where the lady has come to kill the gentleman (in a self-redeeming effort of avenging her sister’s death).

First, about the cast and the people. Jayant is known for his wit, timing and acting, right from the days of the TV Series – “Khandaan”. Truly a man of great theatrical skills, Jayant lends his credibility and touch to this play. Anish, an ex-Investment Banker turned playwright, with his previous play “Still Single” going off the streets after an year of performances, started the Banyan Tree production company, and has a radio show on 92.5FM. Banyan Tree is one of the largest radio programming companies in India. Theatre, has been a recent foray for Anish and Banyan Tree. And for encouragement, the previous act (Still Single) did win him some good and some bad press. Dipika Roy has also been around in the theatre circuits for quite some time and has a list of impressive plays to her credit. Anish’s partner at Banyan Tree, she is Anish’s muse for sure given her role in Still Single as well as One Small Day.

Trivia: In the initial running of the play, Jayant was acting and Anish was directing. But for some reason, within a month or so, the roles were reversed.

Back to the play, which apparently is an inspired play. The original required people to take sides, define things as right or wrong, while Anish and Jayant’s effort is more on the humorous side. It’s not an intellectually challenging play, and plays for approximately 2 hours on the humorous/ satirical side of things.

Sheila (Dipika) barges into Bollywood Producer Hari Kapoor’s (Anish) office to kill him. His crime – Sheila’s sister Seema has committed suicide, after Hari failed to live up to his promise of casting her in a role. A heartbroken Seema ends up taking her life, but not before telling her sister why she is doing it. Having had a troubled childhood (after losing her mother at the age of 18, and father at the age of 22, Sheila raises her 14 year old sister all by herself. She has lived her life by the social norms of right and wrong, doing all the right things and sacrificing her “life” in return. She blames Hari for having lost the most important person in her life- Seema. Hari, over the course of a long conversation which fairly wittily tries to address the question of different personalities, insecurities, actions, motives, reality, people, emotions, individuality, sacrifices, choices, careers, and most importantly, the futility of it all, end up liking Sheila, and making out with her (not on the stage, of course! Indian audiences are not ready for that real a play as yet!). Sheila, however, having been pulled out of her shackles in the first half of the play, digs out Hari’s insecurities in the second half, and shooting him (not fatally, though) towards the end.

The play continues to hit upon the broken dreams and failed aspirations of each of the characters (Sheila, Sushma and Hari) and the roles they played in making them the kind of people they were. And the undertone used is –humor and sarcasm. The play is quite funny, with its wisecracks. However, the essence of a powerful script is that the audience should carry the play with them when they move out of the theatre. That does not happen here!

Background score used in the play is quite involved and in sync with the theme. The stage handling is very apt, and so is the use of the stage. The two actors have played their parts well. However, some of the estrangement and grief that two torn lives should have was missing in their performance.

Overall- a good effort. Can definitely be watched. Much better than spending a weekend on movies like “Just Married” or “HatTrick”

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Moview Review: Just Married

An ensemble cast full of losers, largely loser performances, mediocre editing, average music, and an ok storyline. Chef Comment – Passable Movie!

The story is about the lead couple Fardeen and Esha having gotten married (arranged marriage) and going on their honeymoon where they are staying with 4 other couples (Bikram Saluja-Perizaad, Mukul Dev- Sadia Siddiqui, Raj Zutshi-Tarina and Satish Shah-Kiron Kher). Each of these couples has its own story, set of highs and lows, and a love & hate relationship. Finally love is supposed to triumph, and so it does!

Performances

Fardeen and Esha – Its surprising how Fardeen can make Esha look like an actress! Fardeen is pathetic as usual. With 70% of the dialogues being delivered by Fardeen (explicitly or through a voiceover), it reminds me of how li’l kids participating in elocution competitions are supposed to memorize the lines by rote with no real importance to the emotional punch. The only difference being – Fardeen is worse! He does not have the kiddish innocence required to carry that off!
Esha (even without the Deol) is supposed to giggle, shy away, look confused and act dumb. She is given minimal dialogues, and I wonder if that was Meghna Gulzar’s (the director) mega strategic maneuver. Asking lousy actresses to just stand there and do whatever they feel like doing is a good way to save time and energy.

Bikram Saluja has still not realized that for anything beyond the Grasim and whatever suiting shirting ads he does, some importance is attached to how you act. People are supposed to have a bit of variation in their dialogue delivery. I wonder if his fights with his girlfriend(s) have the same tone as the romantic evenings!
Perizaad Zorabian (and sadly) Irani is wasted as she tries to put some semblance of credibility in this movie through her character. Pity, she didn’t get to build on the tragic side of her story. That she looks good and can act is something that we know!

Mukul Dev and Sadia Siddique are like a TV couple. Sadia knows how to play those small roles well and she does, and one look at Mukul tells you why he was thrown out of movies’ world!

Fourth couple – Raj Zutshi and Tarina Patel – is also a good for nothing, and I don’t know why you are there in the movie couple. Raj has few dialogues. Tarina- fewer

Saving grace of the movie – Satish Shah and Kiron Kher. They rock! Their banters as a couple, their comic timing, and the fact that they are the only ones who add what the real element this movie should have been – Comedy! The scene where both of them are sleeping with their monkey caps and mufflers on is cute and funny. While the continuous “phir bus beech mein rukwaoge” kinda comments are hilarious. And the fact that their concluding sentiment is the only message that this movie could have stood for – You need to stand by your life partner, whatever may happen!

I wonder if Meghna Gulzar identifies and relates more with that generation more than this. While her current day couples are stories that you probably can find in your lifetime, the treatment of what their problems are and what they go through is extremely shallow, her treatment of Satish-Kiron couple is just perfect!

Any other high points- can’t remember!

Overall – Watch it if you have nothing better to do. Or, if you get a free DVD or something, keep skipping to the parts where Satish Shah and Kiron Kher are! You’ll think you watched a gun movie!

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