Once in a while, instead of attending intense, issue-based plays, it’s good to go and have an evening of pure, unadulterated fun in the theatre! And so it proved, when I went to watch “Bade Miyaan Deewane”, staged by Rangbaaz Group, in association with Rashmi Sharma Telefilms.
Directed by Imran Rasheed (who also essayed the role of Mir Saheb), the play is an adaptation of Shauqat Tanvi’s novel “Budhbas”, written in a lighter vein in Urdu. Thanvi’s sure touch for humour is brought out in the adaptation
The play is about an aged man, Mir Saheb, who, while already flanked by two tawaifs, Gulabi and Heera, casts his roving eye on a neighbour’s daughter, Suraiya…who is in love with Mir Saheb’s son. A family friend hatches an intricate plot to resolve the situation and transfer Mir Saheb’s funds and allow a happy ending for the lovers. But meanwhile, misunderstandings and intricacies add a lot of spice to the denouement of the play.
Ranga Shankara classifies the language of the play as Hindustani, which is probably more accurate than calling it Hindi or Urdu.
The fast pace of dialogue delivery sometimes resulted in the words not being clear, but for all that, the earthy humour was very well appreciated by the audience (quite a good house for a Saturday afternoon!). Ripostes such as “saare mard ek jaise hote hain”…”har aurat alag hoti hai!” had the audience clapping enthusiastically.
In the western world, I suppose, this might be classified as a “bedroom farce”, with the greed of the courtesans, the inappropriate roving eye of the older man, and the love of the young couple being brought out during the course of the play. But this harked more to a time when these were the mores of a society in the Islamic milieu.
The cast handled their roles extremely well. Though I could not write the names quickly enough during the introduction post the play, I found that they were a unified group, carrying the production well together. The comic timing, for the most part, was excellent. Imran Rasheed himself essayed the part of the elderly Mir Saheb, with exaggerated geriatic mannerisms such as a body shake, chewing movements, and so on. It was in keeping with the over-the-top stance of the entire production.
A single set, with four different areas that were highlighted (the chai shop, the terrace,, the baithak, and a formal sitting room) proved an economical management of resources. The theatre front doors themselves were used as exit and entry points during the scenes.
The costumes were very well done, invoking the styles of the Pakistani/Indian couture of the era. A simple seating arrangement, and a chai-shop front were very effective, too.Apart from these…and a massive shotgun which made an appearance now and then…not many props were needed.
Having live music by a group of musicians, rendering Gopal Tiwari’s foot-tapping tunes and music, was a big plus for the production. All the actors also joined in the singing once in a while, and this enhanced the effect. The musicians were also cheered to the echo.
The lights and sound were also adroitly handled, and augmented the effect of the play considerably. Imran Rasheed did introduce them, but in the noise of the enthusiastic applause, I could not hear them!
All in all, it was an evening of pure fun, a farce well rendered. The audience might not have taken home any major message…but they came for an evening of rip-roaring, slapstick comedy, and enjoyed themselves hugely. Rarely does one find a hall full of so much hearty laughter! Imran Khursheed’s sure hand as a director showed throughout the production.
The only suggestion I’d have to give to the troupe is to distribute a brochure (a simple cyclostyled sheet would do), giving the names of the cast and crew. When one has invested nearly two hours watching a play, one would certainly like to remember who has essayed what part! Of course, the cast and crew were introduced, but the very abundance of the applause rendered many of the names inaudible!
Comedy seems to the forte of Rangabaaz, and I am eagerly looking forward to their further visits to Bangalore, and to Ranga Shankara!