Rakesh Bedi promises laughter and reflection with a one-act play

Play Massage Time 7 p.m.VenueIndia Habitat Centre (Thursday, March 1)
Sri Ram Centre (Saturday, March 3)TicketsRs.50 onwards (IHC)
Rs.100 onwards (Sri Ram Centre)Contact011-41220000 (IHC) 9810255291 (Sri Ram Centre)Two hours, 24 characters and one actor, that is Rakesh Bedi's "Massage". The familiar television, theatre and Bollywood face brings Vijay Tendulkar's play to the Capital this weekend. Bedi has adapted, not translated, the original from Marathi to Hindi.The play revolves around Happy Kumar. He is a small town man who aspires to join Bollywood. But from the start, dreams don't become reality. He becomes the fourth assistant to a director who makes "sex and snake movies"! Through various twists and turns Happy Kumar ends up becoming a professional masseur. Playing 24 roles, Bedi says, "It took me nine months to get the play together," he adds with a laugh, "It's the same time it takes to have a child." "There are no cues. You remember five pages of script and by the sixth it's all washed out. And then you have to start from the beginning," he names the challenges of a solo performance. Even though he has done around 75 shows across the world, Bedi has been tossing and turning in bed in anticipation of the weekend's show. But he also revels in the challenges. "It's very good for an actor to do a solo performance, at least once in the lifetime." He enjoys that he doesn't have to depend on anyone for rehearsals. "I can just close my eyes and practise." He explains his technique, "It's a three-dimensional experience. I play Happy Kumar, I play other characters but through it all the audience must know it is Rakesh Bedi." He wants the audience to see him as the storyteller. Bedi believes, "Humour without pathos cannot survive." He wants the audience to first laugh, then think. "I have to touch a chord, but without laughter no one will listen to a sad story." Its design and direction is by Harbansh Singh. NN