Direction : Manoj Shah
Writer : Uttam Gada
Cast : Pratik Gandhi, Satchit Puranik,Vaishaki Shukla,Ishaan Dhoshi,Trupti Thakkar


Pratik Kothari

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In general, a film has one central plot and then various sub-plots. Sub-plots are designed basically to lead the audience further into a character's journey. The film as a medium has a lot more resources when you compare it to the stage. Probably that's why iconic plays don't always translate into memorable films and it is even more difficult to put a film on stage. Not that LAXMIPOOJAN is an adaptation of any film but at its heart, it is very filmy. It has around 22 characters - most of them having their own motivations or their own stake in the central plot which revolves around a young boy - Viraj Mehta and his grandfather - Gagan Mehta who want to design an oxygen driven car - 'Oxy car'. Niranjan Mehta - Viraj's father is a typical 'Gujju' stockbroker, driven by profit alone and is radically against the idea of this oxy car. Also running neck to neck with the central plot is Viraj and Sonali's love story. The couple had fallen in love while they were mere toddlers! They happen to meet in the US and the love story begins a la Bollywood style!


Director Manoj Shah and writer Uttam Gada pump life, form and vigour into this love story and tell it in their own unique way. They fit into the story some interesting characterisations which are endearing and enjoyable to watch though sometimes they just go over the top. Viraj's family is symbolised by making all the family members sport similarly designed spectacles. Sonali's father Magan runs a transport business and employs his version of Osho's techniques to manage his stressful business. Then there is his overpowering wife Surati. These are some of the enjoyable characters in the play. Most of these characters turn out to be whacky and the play leaves you awestruck till the interval. But sadly the second half flags off with a scene between Inspector Gadge and Niranjan Mehta which looks redundant to the plot and you wait patiently for the scene to conclude. As Act II further unfolds it remains a little inconsistent with some enjoyable and some dull portions. Many small scenes and blackouts result in the play losing out a bit of its earlier fizz.

Kushal Desai plays not only the spy who keeps an eye out for Gagan and Magan but he is also a stagehand who helps with the scene changes as the play progresses. He does a meticulous job. Ishan Doshi (who plays Viraj Mehta, Bhupesh, Venugopalan) convinces you with a restrained act for Viraj Mehta and is funny in the other two parts. Jayaka Yagnik (who plays Sonali and Ms Banerjee) is at utmost ease with her portrayal of Sonali. The chemistry between Ishan and Jayaka works well and adds soul to the play. Satchit Puranik (who plays a number of characters, including that of Grandfather Gagan Mehta) initially looks a little too young to play a grandpa but later into the play, he convinces you with his act. He succeeds in giving different vocal tonalities to each of his various characters. Yogesh Updahyay (who also plays several characters including the father Niranjan Mehta) delivers a superlative performance. Vaishakhi Shukla Dave in her various roles too, is particularly hilarious as Manjari - a 'Surati' lady and as Viraj's mother, she puts in quite a performance too.

Vaishakhi Shukla does a reasonable job with the costume design. The colours and the contrasts work out quite well and gel with Kabir Thakore's minimalistic set design. There are not more than 7 blocks on stage which are manipulated to suggest different locations, ranging from a house to a street in the US of A. Kanhaiya's music and Shekhar Phadke's light design only adds to the play. Overall the presentation is wittily conceived by Manoj Shah and Uttam Gada but it tends to get a little self indulgent; thus somewhat diluting the overall impact.

*Pratik Kothari has a Diploma in Acting from Barry John's acting studio. He has worked with theatre groups like Manoj Shah's Ideas Unlimited and Salim Arif's Essay Communications. He has also acted in films and is currently assistant director on Shyam Benegal's TV Series 'Samvidhan'.

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