Flashback: Moruchi Mavshi
Romancing The Aunt

Deepa Gahlot

This week, looking back at an old comedy, MORUCHI MAVSHI, that never seems to lose its charm. The production starring Vijay Chavan and Prashant Damle is available on the net.

The inspiration for Prahlad Keshav 'Acharya' Atre's Marathi play MORUCHI MAVSHI, came from Brandon Thomas's farce CHARLEY'S AUNT, first performed in 1892. It is to the credit of the original play that after thousands of productions in innumerable languages, plus several movie versions (Atre made a film 19 1948), it still works, if the performers are able to pull off the boisterous comedy.

In the Marathi production (the 1985 version, was directed by Dilip Kolhatkar) which has been filmed (directed by Mangesh Kadam), a much younger Prashant Damle plays Moru, and Pradeep Patwardhan his equally good-for-nothing friend, Bhaiyya.

More's aunt Rani Kanaklaxmi is due to visit and they want the girls they are in love with to meet her. But the aunt cancels, do, their actor buddy Bandya (Vijay Chavan), who happens to have the right female costume in his bag, is persuaded to impersonate the aunt.

The fake aunt not just acquires two suitors (Bhaiyya's uncle and the girls' guardian), to make matters funnier, the real aunt turns up with her niece who Bandya is in love with.

The onus of the comedy lies on the actor playing the aunt in drag, and it can easily tip into offensive caricature, but Chavan (and later, Bharat Jadhav in the 2014 version) caught the spirit of the part and had so much fun with it, that the audience could not but enjoy the play.

Ignore the low budget look of the video, and watch the exuberant performances.

It is dated, but there is also an endearingly innocent quality to it, which makes MORUCHI MAVSHI an instant mood-lifter.

(Deepa Gahlot is a journalist, columnist, author and curator. Some of her writings are on deepagahlot.com)

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