Atelier’s Hindi adaptation of Neil Simon’s “Rumors” tweaks the original to create a satire on Delhi’s bourgeoisie

What’s Delhi without Khusar Phusar? Atelier Theatre’s play, by the same name, makes it to the Yuva Natya Samaroh of the Sahitya Kala Parishad next week. The play is an adaptation of American play and screen writer Neil Simon’s 1988 Broadway hit — Rumors.

The original is about a series of comic events that take place at the deputy mayor’s dinner, including the host shooting himself in the earlobe. The play is a roaring comedy and a satire on New York’s elite. The Hindi adaptation, by Sidhant Mago, centres around an anniversary party of a couple in Greater Kailash-I. Unlike the original, set in a double storey house, Khusar Phusar unfolds on a single floor.

There are characters like celebrity chef Tarla and Hindi scholar Mohan, whose pure vocabulary is unintelligible. Officer Welch is a Bengali police inspector.

“It’s a situational comedy. We have completely adapted it to an Indian upper class setting. The set is realistic, nothing experimental this time,” explains the play director Kuljeet Singh.

Atelier had first staged the play a year back, along with Simon’s Laughter on the 23rd Floor. “While we stuck to the script in 23rd Floor, we tweaked this one a bit. We were doing a lot of serious plays like Manto Rang, Badal Sircar’s works and Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story. To bring in some variety we picked up these light-hearted plays by Simon.”

The play has done well and found a spot at the Bareilly Theatre Festival earlier this month. Yet in doing such an upper crust comedy, Singh runs the risk of being counted as one of the league that does “drawing room” theatre.

He responds, “I used to be one of the lot that frown upon drawing room plays. But after practicing theatre for more than a decade, I realise that we need space for all kinds of theatre. I may like Leftist plays but I can’t impose it on others.”

The cast and crew include, not only the Delhi University faithful – Dipalie Mehta from Kamala Nehru College and Simranjeet Malhotra, former president of Ankur theatre of SGTB Khalsa College, on the lights – but also dramatists like Diwakar Kumar and Ekagra Tripathi from outside the campus circuit.

The play will be staged on February 12 at 6.30 p.m. at the Shri Ram Centre on Safdar Hashmi Marg. Later this month, a devised performance by Indraprastha College titled Sakina: Rehearsing Manto in times of Gang Rapes — which he is directing — is also scheduled to be staged.