Three plays in three tongues

The Mumbai stage group ready with laugh lines for Chennai.

The Mumbai stage group ready with laugh lines for Chennai.  

HERA PHERI. It Happened One Night. Maaru Naam Joker. That's the line up that Shubha Khote's Shubhangi Kala Mandir and Round Table 10 is bringing to Chennai, in aid of the Valluvar Gurukulam school, at the Music Academy, on March 31, April 1 and April 2.

This is probably the first time in the city, that the same bunch of actors will act in three different plays and in three different languages, producer-director and actress Shubha Khote informs. While the long-running `Hera Pheri' (that has completed 50 shows since 1992) comes to Chennai on popular demand, the veteran comedy actress also decided that the city would be the best place to premiere the group's latest production in two different languages — `It Happened One Night' in English and `Maaru Naam Joker' in Gujarati.

"The audience here is both intelligent and fun loving. They appreciate the dialogue based witty comedies and the situational comedies," says Bhavana Balsaver, who has also scripted the new productions.

But aren't three different plays in three different languages on three consecutive days being tough on the actors? "No, its good that it's three different languages. The actors won't mix up the lines this way," laughs Bhavana. "We rehearsed for a little more than a month. The entire group is very mad. We have so many common interests, we all love food and our rehearsals are fun," she adds.

Mom and director Shubha Khote agrees. "There are two types of artistes in my group — mad and very mad," she says. "The one who is telling you that is the maddest of the lot, the captain of the ship," artiste Aashish Roy Basu quips. "We keep pulling each other's leg all the time. That's what happens at our rehearsals. In fact, when we usually chat around, we use a lot of lines from the characters that we are playing in a different context," says Bhavana.

Shubha tells us that that the bouquet of plays in different languages has found its demand in the overseas markets. Shubhangi Kala Mandir, which she started in 1968, started its activities with a Marathi film `Chimukala Pahuna' (Little Guest) and went on to produce a video play `Hungama Ho Gaya'. Over the last decade, the banner has brought out six productions — three of which will play in the city from Monday evening. `Bachelor's Wives' and `Let's do it' (that played recently in the city) and Hindi play titled `Hum Dono' are the other three.

"I definitely prefer to do comedies. They are relaxation," says the talented veteran comedienne. "You can make people laugh without being vulgar. All our plays are clean entertainment," she adds. However, they all maintain that theatre in India is still only for those who want the satisfaction. "There's not much money in theatre. It's not profitable. One can't do theatre and nothing else. They have to go to office."

Soap operas and TV entertainment is no competition to stage, believes the actress.

"The Sunday movies had temporarily affected the stage. But with so many channels now, people know they can watch the same movie some other time."

While `Hera Pheri' is about a conman's attempt at untangling the mess he has created for himself posing as a lawyer and stars Aashish Roy Basu, Amit Behl, Kranti Redkar, Hormazd Chesan, Bhavana Balsaver and Shubha Khote, Gujarati play `Maaru Naam Joker' and `It Happened One Night' is about mistaken identities that has the audience in splits and suspense and stars Bhavana Balsaver, Amit Behl, Hormazd Chesan and Aashish Roy Basu (swapping their roles for different versions), Kranti Redkar, Hilla Sethna, Devendra Mistry and Bharat Kamvani. The music is by Ashwyn Balsaver.

By Sudhish Kamath

Photo: S. Thanthoni

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