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A Bubbly Offering of Laughter and Romance

June 2006
A Bubbly Offering of Laughter and Romance

Saakar, a local theatre group continues to step up the ante in the world of desi dramatics.

They say the road to young love is paved with many obstacles, an adage illustrated aptly through rib-tickling humor in the Hindi play Khoob Milayi Jodi. A romantic comedy involving mistaken identities, the play revolves around a pair of Mumbai college students, Rajesh Manchanda (Sunny Sachdeva) and his buddy Manu Rastogi (Gaurav Bakshi) and their hare-brained scheme to marry the girls they love, Usha Singh (Anita Gupta) and her cousin sister Nisha Singh (Darshan Kaur) respectively.

A debonair and witty classmate, Babloo (Anurag Goel), an actor at heart, is talked into impersonating a woman - Manu's mausi (aunt), a rich diamond merchant from South Africa and widow of Lord James Butterworth, Lady Angela Butterworth. The purpose of the charade is to have the aunt act as chaperone while the young men confess their love to the young ladies and propose marriage. Since the ‘real' aunt sends a last minute telegram saying she cannot make it, the young men are confident their plan is fool-proof!

But, as always, complications abound! Rajesh's uncle, Inder Manchanda (Sanjay Mannan), a well-meaning but bankrupt retired colonel in the Indian army, is talked into contemplating marriage to the rich old aunt by his nephew Rajesh. The conservative and autocratic Raibahadur Hardayal Singh (Amitabh Sharma), father of Nisha and uncle and guardian to Usha, in hopes of marrying into wealth, also falls in love with the fake, slightly mannish-looking Angela Butterworth. And ultimately, the real aunt shows up with Babloo's heartthrob Shilpa Shah (Sapna Khakaria) in tow, and the fun and games begin in earnest.

Suffice to say that true love triumphs. All confusions are resolved. Rajesh and Usha swear eternal love for each other. Manu and Nisha are united forever. Babloo and his sweetheart confess their feelings for one another. Even Col. Manchanda sweeps his new love, the real aunt Angela Butterworth (Rita Kapahi), off her feet and together they ‘charge' off into the sunset.

Inspired by the timeless classic Charlie's Aunt penned by Brandon Thomas, Khoob Milayi Jodi, with writer-director Anuraag Mishraraj at the helm, has seamlessly transitioned the original setting from the 1880s streets of London to the hustle and bustle of present-day Mumbai. Slapstick fills this classic farce that satirizes customs of a bygone era; the older generation's having to approve the marriages and the social requirement for a chaperone?An age-old custom that many in the audience could probably still relate to.

Witty repartee, a tight script and excellent theatrics make Khoob Milayi Jodi an amateur play of professional proportions. The acting, too, was remarkable. Notable amongst them was Amitabh Sharma who played the pipe-smoking, fez-wearing autocrat Raibahadur with aplomb. Anurag Goel too deserves mention as the lovesick Babloo, who dons a wig and maroon velvet gown to bail his friends out of a sticky situation with the skill of a seasoned performer. His depiction of mausi Butterworth, replete with shrill pitch, female wiles and crazy antics, filled the auditorium with laughter.

Special mention needs to be made of the set construction and stage design. Right from the Mumbai skyline to Mallika Sherawat's poster on the wall, The Times of India paper on the table and the Rs. 20 note, attention to detail was the order of the day. Although, the last act seemed to drag on a little, Khoob Milayi Jodi made it an evening filled with a little romance, a little pretense and a lot of laughs.

With prior successful viewings under its belt, Khoob Milayi Jodi was staged by Saakaar, a local not-for-profit theatre and opened to a full-house on Sunday, May 7 at the Berkmar High School, Lilburn. Saakaar has numerous plays to its credit. Amongst them are an adaptation of Neil Simon's Rumors, Sharad Joshi's Ek Tha Gadha and the recently staged Mouse Trap by the queen of crime, Agatha Christie. Currently, they are auditioning for their next production, an Indian rendition of the classic Fiddler On The Roof.


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