I mean, Melbourne, you must see this play, Mera Wo Matlab Nahi Tha

By Neena Badhwar

Mera Wo Matlab Nahi Tha, a play brought to Sydney by Actor Prepares, Mumbai, is an interesting play that moves back and forth in time though it opens up to a scene in the present about a couple who meet in the park 35 years hence. They were in love in their young years but life had other plans as they drifted apart due to reasons only known to them or their respective families who did everything to separate them and coerce them into marriages they had planned for them. Alas those were the days when parents could have their way and in old filmi style could put all sorts of obstacles in their children’s lives. Things no girls and boys would ever accept or cow down to these days.

The characters, Pritam (played by Anupam Kher) and  Hema (played by Neena Gupta) and to provide humerous interludes, Rakesh Bedi (Kapoor Saab), a neighbor, comes and goes as the set of the play is a simple bench, a meeting point where the whole story is laid bare as layer after layer unfolds in the Lodi Gardens in Delhi shown as a picture in the backdrop. Hema has finally decided to square the score and settle once and for all, all that life could have been, only if. Hema wants to know why Pritam married someone else when he loved her and she him. Pritam has his reasons and Hema hers. The story is intercepted by taking them into their past to explain how things actually happened. The play uses scenes from the past for the story to move forward, a new technique which has been tried out for us Sydney audience for the first time by using film clips. Some well known TV and film actors have been used as Pritam and Hema go through their versions of what actually happened which clears a lot of misunderstanding that they have carried about each other.

Both Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta have acted very well. There is a great chemistry between the two, quite comfortable with each other, one wonders that they could have made a very good couple. So what went wrong, all the misunderstandings caused by their parent’s interference making both Pritam and Hema live in their own perspectives that they have formed about each other. The dialogues are crisp, witty and carried all the way with total ease from these two quite accomplished actors.

Neena Gupta quite easily switches herself into the role of Nigar, Pritam’s wife who is a Muslim girl from Bali Maran in Chandni Chowk. She transforms in front of you as they move from the park bench to the lounge room of Pritam’s house. She is superb and Anupam matches her with equal ease. Her old Delhi lingo is pretty good and her simplicity charming while on the other hand in Hema she is the battered wife who cannot manage her anger and ends up murdering her husband. Both very different roles performed by this one person in an accomplished manner. Satish Kaushik as the brother-in-law in the film clip is also quite expressive.

The play is hilarious at moments and serious enough to incorporate in it a murder, exploitation, parents’ pressure, and plays on emotions that range from romance, jealousy, anger, doubt, and some comedy in between.

It’s a play that keeps you engaged from the moment it starts and right up to the end. The scene in America of Pritam’s son Raunaq dumping his father and mother somewhere near a lake could have been cut. Besides that the script is pretty tight and keeps one engaged yet laughing all the way. And as audience you do want them to reunite after all that what has happened to them. Times have changed and the play ends with the possibility that Pritam could be with Hema as she is on her way to England to be with her daughter.

Sydney has witnessed an excellent play after a long long time. With actors such as Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta and Rakesh Bedi in the cast who also wrote the play, it is an excellent play all the Melburnians should not miss as it will be staged there on December 10. Mera matlab hai ke aap zaroor yeh play dekhein”¦

Book your tickets: Melbourne, December 10:  http://www.kingstonarts.com.au/WHATS-ON/AnupamKherPlay


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