Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Piya Behroopiya - comes to delhi

Disclaimer : this review by my manager Deborah Grey has previously appeared Plunging Necklines . I have also been an audience to this play with her, and this is exactly what i had to say about the play too. So rather than typing the whole review once again to prove that i am a wordsmith, thought it would be a great idea to just post the review of deborah, who is almost like the other me, when i read this post. And believe me, when i say that this play is not something you could just witness, it is something that you experience. Guess they are coming to delhi next. If you are in Dilli, do give Piya Behroopiya a dekko. Will update  date, time and venue soon. Keep your nazar.. idharichhh! 

Review: Piya Behrupiya

It’s often considered sacrilegious to suggest anyone can add value to Shakespeare’s work, but theatre veteran Atul Kumar appears to have accomplished just that with Piya Behrupiya, his Hindi adaptation of Twelfth Night.

I couldn’t sleep all of Saturday night after I first saw the play at Rangsharada. So I went to watch it again on Sunday. I found that I could watch it again and again. No point telling you one of the world’s best known stories. Piya Behrupiya retains the essence of Twelfth Night but adds a dash of Indian-ness to it. It also stars some of the best looking men and women in the business.

Young Amitosh Nagpal, his twinkling eyes never failing to make contact with the ladies in the audience, walks on to the stage to tell us that it was he who translated the play and what a thankless job it was. He laments Shakespeare’s step-fatherly treatment of his character, Sebastian (Viola’s twin), and that he has all of four lines that too at the end of the play and wonders aloud if he could have played another role or if the actors could have performed the play in Shakespeare’s English,“Yeh thou-thine kar lete?! Dil par haath rakh kar kahiye, yeh Toby ka role main nahi kar sakta tha?”All the while his wicked smile held in place with dimples that can melt any woman’s heart!

Piya Behrupiya is replete with gender and identity confusion, so typical of many of the bard’s plays. While the play is essentially a musical comedy, it does have its deeply moving moments.
The lovely Viola (Geetanjali Kulkarni, flawless, measured and layered) pinches your heart as she rubs off her fake moustache and lets her hair loose, getting in touch with her feminine side as she feels the pangs of love for Duke Orsino (Sagar Deshmukh, commanding stage presence, often hilariously breaks into Marathi while herding his co-actors off stage after a scene) who thinks she is a man. However, the homosexual subtext that underlines Sebastian and Antonio’s relationship is completely done away with, as Antonio only finds a passing mention in the play.

Piya Behrupiya stands out because of its songs. All actors are also gifted singers and there are generous dollops of folk music, ranging from Phool Singh’s (Neha Saraf, lively and confident) beautiful rendition of Kabir’s verses, to a hilarious Mata ka Jagrata where Gagan Riar who plays the perpetually inebriated Uncle Toby suddenly takes stage as Billu Dangerous and the rest of the cast doubles up as his Jagrata Mandali! There’s also a killer Qawwali at the end where Sebastian and Andrew (Mantra, his rich deep baritone making many a complex note sound as delicious as melting dark chocolate being washed down the throat with bitter black coffee) take on each other as they fight over Olivia (Mansi Multani, spunky Punjabi kudi with her accent adding just the right amount of zing).

Neha Saraf’s un-self-conscious performance as the delightful fool, Phool Singh, is as much a treat as is Trupti Khamakar’s spirited Maria. Watchout for Kahmakar’s impromptu kiss with Riar! There’s some girl on girl action too as Viola struggles against Olivia’s advances.

The play is full of clever writing. Watch out for gems like Olivia’s “Bas use kiya aur reject!” or “Feeling koi kabootar thodi hai ki dana daalo toh aa jaye!” or “Aap kahaan ko belong karte ho?” to which Cesario replies, “I belong to a very good family!” Then there’s that priceless moment when Sebastian struggles to untie the knot of Olivia’s scarf with his teeth even as she sings and winks naughtily at the viewers.

A word of caution for the weak hearted… The most shocking scene in the play is where Malvolio (Saurabh Nayyar, perfect timing and a head full of heart-breakingly sexy curls) appears on stage in near transparent yellow tights, family jewels struggling to break out of barely concealed blue kachchhas! Toby trying to pull back his lungi even as Sebastian and Olivia share a ‘private’ moment or whenever he puts his hands into an unsuspecting Andrew’s pockets, had the audience doubling over with laughter!

Piya Behrupiya worked for me and the good news is there are more shows scheduled in other cities over the next three months.

I still wake up with “Darwaza kholegi hi nahi” or “O ri sakhi mangal gao ji” playing in my head, hoping the effortlessly charming dimpled Sebastian asked me out for a cup of coffee. I permit the other dangerously handsome young man in your mandali to share my number with you.

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