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Comic connection

Theatre director Meherzad Patel on why the focus in a play should always be on the plot

Mumbai | Updated: April 9, 2014 12:45:59 pm
Meherzad Patel (centre) with the cast of Gujarati play Pakar Mari Poochri Meherzad Patel (centre) with the cast of Gujarati play Pakar Mari Poochri

By Aditya Shekhar

Comedy comes very naturally to me. I just write a play and then see if it turns out to be funny; one cannot throw random jokes at the audience. It is important to keep the plot in the centre and then bring about funny elements,” says Mumbai-based Meherzad Patel whose Gujarati play Pakar Mari Poochri will be staged on March 23 at Nehru Memorial Hall, 7 pm.
Pakar Mari Poochri, he says, is about Freddie, who is recently divorced. As he wants to move on in life, he takes a break to stay at his farmhouse in Alibaug. “But his family members, from his brother to his ex-wife to his father and many more, turn up at the bungalow and the chaos follows,” says Patel.
So does he find writing comic plays easier than the serious ones? Patel says, “We have done serious plays too, such as Kalam, in the past. But the problem with serious plays is if we don’t have established actors, the audience is not interested.” Comedy, on the other hand, he says, is something people can relate to. “They will chose to sit back and relax in a funny play rather than investing time in a serious subject,” he adds.
Passionate about theatre since his college days, Patel has been writing and directing from 2008, when he established his theatre group Silly Point Productions. He has directed 10 plays till date which include Like That Only, Fools, The Class Act, Bawa and I Know It. The playwright says he keeps his actors in mind while writing a play. Most of his actors are his schoolmates from St Mary’s, Mumbai. “It is more like friends coming together to form a professional theatre group. We understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” he says. Patel says improvisation is the key.
“Situations keep changing and the jokes which were once funny, may not click with the audience. Hence, we keep undating our plays,” he says.


Comedy of errors

By Anjali Jhangiani KP

Twins Sebastian and Viola arrive in the idyllic kingdom of Illyria after a shipwreck, each believing that the other is dead. Viola dresses up as a boy and seeks employment in the household of Duke Orsino, who is hopelessly in love with Lady Oliva. Olivia has been mourning her brother for seven years and has no intentions of entertaining any suitors.A topsy-turvy love story follows, with Viola, under the guise of Cesario, falling in love with the Duke, and Oliva falling in love with Cesario.
Staged at Nehru Memorial Hall, the play Piya Behrupiya received a standing ovation by the audience. Directed by Atul Kumar, the play is an Indian adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The cast included Sagar Deshmukh, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Mansi Multani, Gagan Riar, Mantra Mugdha, Trupti Khamkar, Neha Saraf, Amitosh Nagpal, Saurabh Nayyar and Aadar Malik.
The play was staged at The Globe theater during the World Shakespeare Festival in 2012 and recently won an award at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards. What makes Piya Behrupiya enjoyable is its nautanki treatment.
While Olivia has a thick Punjabi accent, Orsino suddenly starts talking in Marathi. The clown, referred to as Phool Singh in the play, talks with a Haryanvi tone and manages to change the mood of the play with Sufi songs. Audience interaction is an important element. While Sebastian complains in verse about his small role as the heroines brother in the play, Sir Toby and a Bengali Sir Andrew, two drunk men, deliver their dialogues with a wink to people sitting in the first few rows.

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