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Play packs a punch

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LAUGH RIOTA scene from the play
LAUGH RIOTA scene from the play

Tanaaz Irani’s directorial debut ‘Daddy Kool’ was a rib-tickling comedy

A play in English performed by a group of Hindi television actors, written and directed by a first-timer. There were a lot of reasons to wonder whether Tanaaz Irani’s directorial debut, ‘Daddy Kool’, would work or end up falling flat on its face like many comedic ventures that are billed to be ‘rib-tickling’.

But the play, which was staged at the Music Academy recently, got it right for most part and had more than lived up to its billing by the end of the evening.

If it had a fault, it was its rather slow beginning. In fact, in the first 15 minutes or so, the play seemed destined to confirm one’s worst fears—a silly throwaway scene involving a bad imitation of Feroz Khan, and Tanaaz’s husband Bakhtyaar Irani dancing with two scantily-clad girls to ‘Mauja hi mauja’ in the next. Were we going to have to sit through the theatrical version of a corny Hindi movie?

Luckily, the answer was no, and things picked up very quickly as we became acquainted with the wonderfully dysfunctional Advani family: the sarcastic control-freak Sindhi businessman dad, Lachumal Kishenchand Advani (Sandip Sikcand), the neatnik doting Parsi mom Pilloo (Roshan Tirandaaz), the irresponsible playboy older son Avinash (Bakhtyaar) and the nerdy younger son Buddy (Karan Mehra).

The core of the story is the clash between generations—Lachu doesn’t approve of Avinash (whom he lovingly refers to as a ‘bum’) and Avinash hates working in dad’s waxed fruit business. Now, Buddy has had enough as well, and has run away from home to his brother’s bachelor pad, where all the action happens for the rest of the play.

As far as the acting is concerned, the older generation definitely wins in ‘Daddy Kool’. Neither Bakhtyaar nor Karan is bad — Bakhtyaar doesn’t really seem to have a flair for comedy and seemed rather unsure of himself at first, but warmed up pretty soon, and Karan was quite effective as the goofy and inexperienced Buddy.

But, the evening really and truly belonged to Sandip in his wonderfully cranky turn as Lachu, infusing the role with a terrific comic energy that drew laughs every time he came on stage. Similarly, Roshan was just pitch-perfect as the motherly Pilloo who bemoans her lost chance at taking part in the Miss India pageant back in 1968 every chance she gets.

The theme of the play isn’t anything new, of course, but once Tanaaz gets comfortable with the characters and the situations (which includes a wannabe Bollywood starlet (Nisha Sareen) waltzing in and out of the apartment and the love of Avi’s life, Ayesha (Kishwer Merchant), demanding that he marry her), the punch lines flow fast and funny. Farcical situations, twists and turns and several cute little touches made sure the (unfortunately small) audience was entertained to the end. Quite kool, all in all.

DIVYA KUMAR

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