Bharat Rang Mahotsav: Nadira Babbar continues the tradition of crowd entertainers with a well-crafted story of friendship and pretentiousness

What is it that makes Nadira Zaheer Babbar’s theatre such a crowd-puller? Whenever she stages plays in Delhi, theatre lovers make a beeline for tickets to attend the shows that invariably play to a full house. The main point appears to be that she keeps her productions free of intellectual fog. The second aspect is her diction, which is urbane, lucid, chiselled and a source of pleasure in itself. The tone and language of the dialogue vary according to the character employing it, making delivery natural and easy. Since she portrays life around her, most members of the audience identify with the characters portrayed on stage. So, it is no wonder that “Yaar Banaa Buddy - Bang on…Dhamaal Tigdi”, featured at the just ended Bharat Rang Mahotsav at Kamani in New Delhi, evoked tremendous response from the audience. It had two shows the same evening playing to a capacity hall.

Written and directed by Nadira, another fascination for the audience was its cast featuring popular actors of film, television and stage, like Yashpal Sharma, whose recent performance in “Tughlaq” in the lead role at Ferozshah Kotla won him accolades, and Sajjad Khan, who gave a memorable performance in “Tughlaq” as a cleric betrayed by the treacherous and cruel-hearted Sultan.

The play focuses on the life of three friends who come from a modest background and have climbed the social ladder through hard work and the sacrifices of their parents who provided them good education. Jaydeep Wankhede is a plastic surgeon who is in great demand in the city of fashion, Mumbai, and has managed to amass a lot of money. Mithilesh Khurana is a family man. The third friend is Kartik Kothari, married to a woman of high society. Through the interactions between the three, the play seeks to expose pseudo aesthete and stresses the value of true friendship. Jaydeep reveals the characteristics of a nouveau riche who takes pride in showing off. His attitude towards his friends has also become superficial and formal. He considers himself highly cultured and thinks his friends are lacking in manners of high society.

Just back from Japan, Jaydeep has bought an average looking earthen pitcher and considers it a source of life and spiritual enlightenment. The price he has paid for this object is fantastic. For him it is a great object of art simply because he has paid a high amount. He invites his friend Mithilesh with the motive of showing him his “high aesthetic sense”. Far from inflating his ego by showering praise on his aesthetic taste, Mithilesh describes the object as “shit”. The remark makes Jaydeep furious, who declares that his friend has no cultural education and background to appreciate great works of art. Only a connoisseur can appreciate his taste. Mithilesh leaves the room in a huff.

Enters the third friend, Kartik. By nature he is malleable and not aggressive, playing the role of peacemaker.

The play presents everyday situations that take place in the life of the middle class. Out of these everyday situations the director brings to the fore comic elements that keep the audience in good humour. One such comic situation is when Mithilesh insists that Kartik eat hot parantha. Asserting his authority as a husband, he, in an authoritative tone, asks his wife to get the parantha hot, and the wife bluntly refuses to oblige her husband. This kind of incongruous situation amuses the audience. We laugh at the hurt male ego.

The production not only evokes laughter but also offers touching moments. Apart from their common modest background during their youth, there is a tinge of pathos in their lives which brings them emotionally closer. Jaydeep has parted from his girlfriend and continues to be a bachelor. The pain of this separation continues to hurt him. Kartik, married to a rich woman of high society, has become cold and indifferent, and both are living separately. Mithilesh’s wife is suffering from terminal disease. They pour their hearts out with tears in their eyes. This is how they purge their mind and heart of misunderstanding and become true friends once again.

Cheel Paresh has beautifully designed the sets to capture the ambience of a rich man’s ostentatious house. Most of the action takes place at Jaydeep’s house. Everything about this production is neat and slick. The music by Amod Bhatt of “Piya Behroopia” fame enhances the entertaining value of the production. Yashpal Sharma as Mithilesh Khurana, Sajjad Khan as Jaydeep Wankhade, and Chinmay Das as Kartik Kothari display remarkable sense of timing, adding richly to the comic rhythm of the production.