Review

LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE - 2

Direction : Sam Kerawalla
Cast : Dinyar Contractor and Bomie E. Dotiwala

LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE - 2 Play Review


Piroj Wadia



 LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE - 2 Review
 Schedule
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Sequels can end up being a shadow of their original, but LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE 2 dispels any such misgivings. An infectious air of hilarity resounded through the Tata Theatre. Once again, the second tribute evening to the late Adi Marzban was just the way the Master would have wanted it. Live foot-tapping music by the trio called The Hijackers had the audience relax at the beginning of the show in dim lights. Very much like the prequel that opened on 17th April 2012 with Marzban Mehta.

Moti Antia, Jasmin Siganporia, Ruby Patel and Bomi Dotiwala in a hilarious sketch on Parsi women watching a cricket match
Moti Antia, Jasmin Siganporia, Ruby Patel and Bomi Dotiwala in a hilarious sketch on Parsi women
watching a cricket match


Other than the music prelude LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE 2 followed the precedent set by the creator of these wonderful entertainers, once called ''Variety Revues''. Adi Marzban always presented young talent, so Hormuzd Khambatta's Dance Company set the tempo for the evening with its energetic dance sequences that ended with Staying Alive, when the full cast -- veterans and young talent alike -- boogied on to the stage. The applause signalled the first stirrings of the house coming down.

The revues of years gone by invariably introduced new talent--mostly musicians and singers. It was at one of these that the late Neville Chinoy, a child prodigy made his debut. The Sami sisters - Indira and Uma were usually an opening act; soon they were joined by Usha, later becoming popular as Usha Uthup. But the Bombay Bawas heard her first on a Navroze, eons ago. The mainstays of these revues were the skits, gags and of course, the music. The new voice that evening was that of Shanaya Boyce who reprised Celine Dion and Whitney Houston's standards.

Adi Marzban always kept himself abreast of popular culture and hence his scripts reflected current trends and events. There would invariably be a song, which would highlight current issues of the city or the community; the lyrics usually written by the maestro himself, with inputs from the actor-singer, set to a popular song. When The Beatles were the rage, the late Jimmy Pocha wore a wig and belted out his tribute to the Fab Four. In much the same way, Homi Tavadia made his entry at one of the revues with a bunch of ladies singing Bob Azzam's Ya Mustafa, a top of the then pops. That evening as Danesh Khambatta started to sing 'O Sole Mio', Hormuzd Ragina interrupted him from the audience and it culminated in a full-throated call for the ''Jiyo Parsi'' initiative in song in true Adi Marzban style.

Shariyar Attai, who is known for his witty lyrics, set to popular songs, regaled the audience for what was to come later. Later between the skits and the gags, Hormuzd Ragina got the audience singing along for the Elvis Presley standard Can't Help Falling in Love while Kayo Billimoria's Quando Quando brought back memories of Engelbert Humperdinck who made it an evergreen hit.

The late Adi Marzban himself would lead the audience through the evening right to the curtain call. Jim Vimadalal did his duty as the evening's host with his own easy wit and charm.

Burjor and Ruby Patel in a still from Laughter in the House-2
Burjor and Ruby Patel in a still from Laughter in the House-2

The highlights of LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE 2 are its rib-tickling skits and gags. There are two piece de resistance sequences. Both feature Ruby Patel. One is about Ruby and Burjor Patel recording a video to send to Ratan Tata about Ruby's very first time on an airplane and her misgivings about his airlines. Her punch line is advising Ratan Tata to stay put with the Tata group. Bharat Dabholkar couldn't have asked for a better pair of actors for his skit on cricket -- Ruby Patel and Moti Antia, indulge in scintillating banter while watching a cricket match. The guffaws that resounded were proof enough that there was indeed laughter in the house.

The finale is preceded by ''Antakshari'', scripted by the eminent scripwriter Aatish Kapadia. ''The eight songs based on popular Hindi and English numbers depict the peculiarity of Parsis without deriding them.

It's about their quirks -- the food habits, punctuality, flirtatiousness, number dropping -- the entire plus and minuses. I feel it's the only religion that celebrates being alive'', says Kapadia. As the end drew near, it was Bomi Dotiwalla who stepped up to the mike for the signature Tehmi tu paachi aav sung to the tune of Torna a Surriento a.k.a. Elvis Presley's Surrender. This one time tribute to Adi Marzban had special significance the evening the show opened. Dotiwalla dedicated the song to his wife Dolly who had succumbed to a heart attack two days before the show. Despite the personal loss, the veteran actor wanted the show to go on. That was the one time there was a hush in the auditorium, which broke out into a thunderous standing ovation.

The veterans Burjor and Ruby Patel, Moti Antia, and Bomi Dotiwalla -- who have shouldered the success of LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE -2 along with veteran director Sam Kerawalla, for whom, ''It has been wonderful picking the best of Adi's (Marzban) material from his variety revues and rehearsing with my oldest actors who have religiously worked with me for years.'' After the success of the previous show, they have gone a step further with scripts written in honour of the Master by Bharat Dabholkar, Rahul da Cunha, Aatish Kapadia, and Meherzad Patel.

Veteran stars and members of the younger ensemble cast live it up in the finale Antakshari party scene
Veteran stars and members of the younger ensemble cast live it up in the finale Antakshari party scene


The valuable add-on was the cast of youngsters who shared the stage with the veteran stars. The supporting younger cast is a lively ensemble led by Danesh Irani, Danesh Khambata, Parinaz Jal, Rashna Karai, Jasmin Siganporia, Meiron Damania and Naushad Buchia. A couple of them are fresh finds from the ''Draame Bawaas'' competition introduced last year to unearth new Parsi talent. With Jim Vimadalal at the mike and the young emerging talent, can we hope for more laughter sequels or for fresh writing?

Don't miss this wonderful tribute to laughter. Adi Marzban once said: ''I give people what they want - healthy laughter and a few hours' enjoyment.'' Sequels do entertain and LAUGHTER IN THE HOUSE 2 will have you smiling the following day too.

*Piroj Wadia is a film critic, journalist and copy consultant of long standing. She has been reviewing Hindi films for the Free Press Journal and international films for Screen. She has written extensively on television and films for Screen, Indian Express & Deccan Chronicle. Other papers she writes for are Midday, Afternoon Despatch & Courier, Jame-Jamshed Weekly. She has served on the jury for the ITA awards; and IDPA awards.


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