Sunday, June 1, 2014

Go to your room, Mother - a play by Sanjiv Desai

When I got word a month or so back that two of my class-mates (from undergraduate in BITS, Pilani) were involved in a play, I had to get tickets in a show of support. I had seen an earlier play, Noor, from the same production unit a year or so back and had enjoyed it thoroughly - particularly the acting of Sanjiv Desai who did a fabulous job in the role of a eunuch (in whose eyes the story unfolds).

This time, Sanjiv Desai had written the play. I learned that he was not making the trip from Delhi this time around. Another friend, Amit Sheth, had designed the sets and the sound.

The play was at Montgomery Theater in downtown San Jose. It was being done as a benefit for Maitri - a non-profit organization helping families from South Asia facing domestic violence.

The play starts with us learning of the demise of a successful businessman, Mr. Dalmia and how his widow, Purnima Dalmia (played by Seema Karnik) is suddenly faced with the realities of having to deal with finances, bills, etc. In a moment of weakness, her daughter-in-law, Rita Mansingh (played by Sindhu Singh) asks her to move in with them. The next, delightful, sequence is played out between Rita Mansingh and her husband, Rajiv Dalmia (played by Basab Pradhan) - where she tells him that (since they are empty nesters), she invited his mother to stay with them. She leaves the task of informing her own mother, Sheela Mansingh (played by Rashmi Rustagi) to her husband, Rajiv. By the time Rajiv informs his mother-in-law, Purnima has already gloated about her "status" to Sheela. Rajiv is left with no choice but to ask Sheela to move in with them as well.

The rest of the play is the adjustments that the one-big-happy-family need to make. Some scenes seemed a bit long drawn (such as the one where Purnima and Sheela decide which room they will take), while the others were witty and had some very clever dialogs - "If God has any sense, he will stay away from this place". Overall, the play was fast paced and the plot was well developed. The acting by the four main characters - Basab, Sindhu, Seema and Rashmi was simply awesome. Given that the entire play is set in the kitchen and bedroom of Rajiv and Rita's house, the set change between scenes was minimalist. Yet, it was quite amazing to see how quickly the actors changed clothes between scenes.

I noticed that the audience was mostly South Asian. At the intermission, I asked some of the ushers (who seemed to be the only caucasians watching) if they were liking the play. She said, "It is nice to see that the issues are the same across cultures. I am enjoying every bit of the play."

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Some of the dialog was risque with double entendre. However, it was never "out of place". The characters were definitely believable in a modern day context. Congratulations, Sanjiv. Wishing more successes to this play and look forward to your next one.


Amit Sheth said...

Thanks Prakash for your wonderful and insightful comments!

Sanjiv Desai said...

Thanks Prakash! Glad you enjoyed it!