#DadsGirlfriend #TheatreReview #JohnsonThomas #Hindi #English


Hindi-English Theatre Review Johnson Thomas Play: Dad’s Girlfriend Cast: Satyendra Malik, Suman Vaidya, Anumeha Jain, Karishma Singh Director: Atul Satya Koushik Writer: Atul Satya Koushik, Rating: * * ½ Playtime: 130 mins After a successful opening in Delhi, Atul Satya Koushik’s new play, a sitcom, ‘Dad’s Girlfriend’ opens in Mumbai to decent crowds. Staged by one of Delhi’s leading theatre groups, The Films and Theatre Society, and promoted by Kaushik’s frequent marketing collaborator Coconut Theatre, ‘Dads Girlfriend’ is an urban family drama that hopes to get you cackling with it’s frequent resort to slapstick. Written and directed by Atul Satya Koushik, this play which is daringly different from his largely mythological ( Chakravyuh, Draupadi, Raavan Ki Ramayan) oeuvre hopes to grab the eyeballs of millennia’s facing similar situations on the home-front. The writing though is a little too heavy-duty to be credited as an out and out comedy. There’s neither depth nor satire in the visual connotations here. Picture this- Diya(Karishma Singh), a brilliant and successful architect and Kanav(Satyendra Malik) a down and out theatre actor, a happily married odd couple, get news that her father Mr Vaidya(Suman Vaidya) a successful author, is flying down from the US to spend some family time with his daughter. Kanav, though unhappy about the visit, has resigned himself to the expected insults while Diya, who hasn’t had much to do with her father after her Mom’s death is really looking forward to having him stay with her. The opening sequence is a fantasy one with Kanav dancing with his fantasy woman in gay abandon and then being brought down to earth with Diya’s announcement about her father’s visit. Kanav and Diya are shown to have a playful relationship which comes under great pressure with the presence of the dreaded Father-in Law who is pompous, peculiar and particular about his family’s achievements and therefore looks down on his son-in-law - who I must say takes it all in his stride. Then comes the inevitable fourth wheel- a former student cum fan of Vaidya, Avni( Anumeha Jain), a PYT about Diya’s age, who idolises the author and eventually falls in love with him. That’s when the main conflict occurs. But the treatment and writing here is very much half-hearted. While Koushik’s resistance to melodrama is appreciable, his attempt to curb natural human emotional reactions is not. Diya’s response is not brought out well enough and Avni’s appears to be an after-thought rather than the mainstay here. Vaidya, who apparently has just returned from a long stay in the US is so without spiff and polish that Suman’s turn appears off-colour. Koushik’s attempt to make that deceit obvious by plonking Vaidya in Delhi after having withdrawn from the game of love, doesn’t help the engagement along, either. The final acts deteriorate into sombre unwieldy dramatics which in fact pours cold water on the flush of fun experienced in the middle. Satyendra Malik is the one who enlivens the experience with an obviously overt show of slapstick combined with superbly intonated verbal repartee that help lighten the mood and keep the audience involved. His unbridled energy lifts the otherwise inept acts, lending some comfort to an otherwise sloppy drama. The actors sound better when they talk in Hindi. The attempt to add English phrases in the dialogues subverts the humour - actors enunciations don’t come across as clearly as required. ‘Dad’s Girlfriend’ lacks in subtlety and craft, the Delhi style humour is forced and the performances lack direction. There’s not much fun to be had here! Johnsont307@gmail.com

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