It was time to watch Ramesh Mehta’s evergreen comedy plays once again, this time jointly organised by the Three Arts Club and Katyayani. Sohaila Kapur, a leading playwright, actor and director, and head of the Katyayani theatre group, directed both the plays — Paisa Bolta Hai and Uljhan.
With their inherent comic vitality, the awkwardness of situations, and the incongruity of human relations the plays delight ed the theatre-goers. Though originally set in the 50s, these plays are still relevant – their comic flavour of the distinct middle class idiosyncrasies is still fresh.
The event has special significance for director Sohaila. Has she edited the original scripts to give them a contemporary look? “I am paying tribute to an artist who made a significant contribution to Hindi comedy, as well as the style of acting in comic roles. I did little editing. We must treat these plays the way he did. These productions are not adapted versions.”
Paisa Bolta Hai talks about the monstrous magnitude of money in our lives. A maltreated menial finds his life transformed after a financial windfall. Life in the house goes rampageous after the incident. Each member has an axe to grind, and will go to any crafty length to lay his/her hands on the money. It certainly is not the kind of comedy where you will be rolling in the aisles, or leaving the theatre with an aching stomach. This is a play about the characters and their motivations; and the ending is, quite intentionally, rather thought-provoking.
Uljhan is a youthful, romantic comedy that focuses on the cosmopolitan make up of Delhi, with different accents in free flow. An endearing rapscallion has lied to his landlady about his marital status, so that he can retain his tenant status. An attractive young lady walks into his home and heart– but who outwits whom is the question! The staging is fun and energetic. It is visually enjoyable and packed with clever lines. Special mention for Vani Vyas, as she snarls, snaps, and crackles her way as the meddlesome, matchmaking landlady.
Searingly well-performed by all, both plays were worth reviving.