Curtain Calls with players of Natak Mandali a good bet for sure

By Sumathi Krishnan

Natak Mandali Inc (NMI) a not for profit community organisation presented two plays ”˜Teen Patti’ (Three Playing Cards) and Becharo Behram (Poor Soul Behram) staged on February 6 and 7, at the Bryan Brown Theatre Bankstown.

Despite Covid-19 restrictions, audiences arrived out of their 2020 slumber with eagerness as friendly volunteers directed us to our seats.

Aparna Tijoriwala well known for her acting talent, showed her versatility as Director presenting the first play for the evening ”˜Teen Patti’.

Under her debut direction, the storyline flourished in this twisted thriller that examined layers of deceit within a familiar husband and wife relationship with an unexpected ending.  

The twist to its ending revealed and upon hindsight one would conclude that the play picked up momentum after the initial slow development of the plot with amazing swiftness and speed.

Through the first half of the play the portrayal of a lazy plotting recalcitrant husband and a ”˜sati savitri’ yet career-oriented wife the play from the beginning debunks patriarchal archetypes. The dialogue delivery and movement whilst smoothly executed, it was the developing storyline that kept audiences engaged easily.

For Non Gujaratis, like me the language was simple enough to be understood, with the acting of a familiar cast who had rehearsed within the physical constraints of Covid.  

It has to be said that few actors in the play simply waltzed in beautifully enrapturing an audience into the unknown depths of the untold and ”˜not talked about’ social issues of today. The twisted and unexpected ending was just perfect and emphasizes the need of the day for playwrights to write and deal with issues that are current and relevant to our life today.

If this thriller truly set the pace for the evening, what followed in comic relief, under the wonderful direction of Dinsha Palkiwala was  Becharo Behram (Poor Soul Behram).

Every single actor in this play was fantastic. With a well written script and a funny plot the audience lapped up the comic waves with gusto.

Good comedy is the hardest act to follow. The direction by Dinsha Palkiwala was a stroke of genius who establishes that the tone and dynamic of the play from the beginning is going to be slap stick comedy. The comic figure Becharo Behram therefore appeared before the curtain raised, who talks to the audience in first person expressing his predicament which follows through when the curtain raises.

Farida Irani and Dinsha Palkiwala and other veteran actors carried the play effortlessly with a fluidity which was most enjoyable. I must say the choice of popular Bollywood songs at the right point was comic timing perfecto! Becharo Behramo! More power to the team.

We express our heartfelt congratulations to all the wonderful actors in both plays in Parag Tijoriwala, Jimmy Medhora, Kamini Pandya, Dinsha Palkiwala and Aparna Tijoriwala, of course. 

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