Three Ha…Ha…Ha…s for the Siddhus


By Neena Badhwar

To my limited knowledge, ”˜The Siddhus of Upper Juhu’ has been, probably, the best Indian comedy play staged in Sydney.

This is attributed to crispness and timing of its dialogues. The language plays a great role in it.

Every language has its gifts: gravitas of Urdu/Persian, precision of Hindi/Sanskrit and expression of cynicism in Punjabi. The play, owing mainly to its structural composition, with English at its base and Punjabi providing the sharpness, had to be a rolling success.

The stage opens to a busy apartment: the sets are cleverly painted to depict an entertaining household with a kitchen and a bar, sofa and a dining table. But full of clamour and chaos – air conditioning   too cold, noisy neighbours and barking dogs in a typical Mumbai suburb.

The choice of a loud and arduous Punjabi husband and a nervy Parsi wife makes the play unique to make the humour effervescent but with an underlying subtlety of a job loss, also topped by being robbed.

Not only does Bubbles J Siddhu, aka BJP, steal the show with his Punjabi deliveries, Shernaz Patel as Behroz is equally brilliant. So are Shishir Sharma as the elder brother, Surinder Pa ji, younger sister as Parminder (Kajli Sharma), and the elder sister, Penji played by Meera Khurana.

Siddhus are a   couple who make, a vibrant, loud,   insane household, irritating to the neighbours in the middle of night, sleepless, making the building full of shouting bouts, people talking through the walls, barking dogs, Siddhu calling out expletives in his perfect Punjabi, a typical day of life in Mumbai, of a cosmopolitan metropolis that pulsates with frustrations.

Behroze’s Parsi Gujju dialogues and BJP’s Punjabi expressions, ‘Syr wich peed’, ‘Hor ki’, littered in between with English, makes this Robert Da Cunha play, full of comedy, that creates utterly hilarious situations. There is classic: “Didn’t I bang for you (on the wall); so why won’t you do for me.”

The conspiracy, the plot, references to BJP, BCCI and the loud Arnab Goswami all make a really tight script and Rajit’s perfect timing and execution makes us forget the specter of Coronavirus looming large on our minds as every delivery leaves its punch followed by laughter and claps from the audience who enjoy every moment.

But the play has its grim realities like ageing, unemployment, depression, insecurity about the future, family squabbles.

Bubbles and Behroze make a loving couple, so different culturally yet so connected, they support each other and tough it out together.

The audience connect to the Siddhus; they fully empathise with the problems and the troubles of a modern life of extravagance and ‘Keeping up with Joneses’ attitude, scared of making a change when things go wrong, Behroze asking for help from the family who has been out of touch for nine years.

The stage sets of a dream apartment albeit with plumbing problems, paper thin walls, lifts not working. Sydney remembers its own Opal and Mascot fiasco: a dream home and a dream job may not be that secure in a fast changing world of today.

The dialogues make you reflect – think deeply about life – the Siddhus demonstrate a solid chemistry in all the troubles they go through, being burgled and the rest.

About the play’s ending, I’m not sure, though. The better closure may have been if the brothers (after the usual Indian ”˜rassakishi’ of yes, no, no of keeping the cheque) had a hug and an embrace of acceptance as the end.

As Taufeeq Ahmed requested all the actors for their thoughts on Sydney, they all praised the audience and expressed a wish to stay longer to enjoy Sydney.

I do wonder why the flowers bouquets were not given to the actors rather than the VIPs at the end. They were the ones to deserve the bouquets for a wonderful performance.

From L to R: Manju Mittal, Shishir Sharma, Rajit Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Meera Khurana and Kajli Sharma

Manju Mittal of SAI Creative Arts Network (SCREAN) Australia and her team has done a wonderful job to stage this play after it was cancelled last year due to family bereavement. Kudos go to her.

Do bring on more such shows. I am sure Sydneysiders will support good ventures such as Deepti Naval’s last year and now the ‘Siddhus of Upper Juhu’.

Pics by Vishaal of Evergreen Memories. Mobile: 0400 229 688.

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