REFUND Play Review

Afsha Khan

Writer : Fritiz Karinthy
Direction : Avneesh Mishra
Cast : Shashi Bhushan Chaturvedi, Geet Sagar, Rana Pratap Sengar/Sabyasachi Misra, Errol Rodrigues, Kanak Khanna, Roshan Shetty, Kush Jobanputra and Varun Kulkarni

 REFUND Review

A distraught man returns to his old school, Moon Educational Trust that is situated atop a mountain, where it is said that no student ever fails. But he isn't here for a chat and chai; he's here on the mission to get a 'refund' for his entire education after being fired from every job he's ever had. "This degree holds no value in the market," he says to his old principal who really can't be bothered with him, and throws him in with his old teachers to face the most absurd of oral exams you would have ever seen. The play's treatment, right down to the dream sequences, hallucinations and the song and dance numbers is absolutely hilarious. It all flows like a sitcom that concludes with an allegorical message.


Buddhisagar (played by Gopal Tiwari), is a typical product of a flawed education system where any kind of questioning is not entertained. His principal (Akarsh Khurana) is a hilarious character who likes to believe that he is running everything,but actually has no clue of what he is doing. The teachers (Shivani Thanksale,Summet Vyas, Satchit Puranik, Pawan Uttam and Lokesh Rai) are quite identifiable as the frustrated monsters from our own pasts, covering their incompetency by bullying those daring to question them.

Buddhisagar is that child which school authority waits to see the end of, but in
retrospect he is everyone of us. Brave enough to hold on to his curiosity that is
never appreciated by authority. But he faces his teachers with defiant bravado.
Gopal Tiwari brings just the right amount of desperation and anger to his role, and makes his character multi-dimensional.

Akarsh Khurana proves that he is not just a Director, at the helm of his own theatre group Akvarious. As an actor, he does well too. He is unafraid to poke fun at himself, as we see in moments that have him self-consciously holding his Buddha like tummy at fat jokes. He makes goofy moves for the song and dance sequences, and at one point even goes down on all fours in a retelling of a story about Vasco Da Gama and his horse.

The play offers a lot in terms of entertainment and slapstick humour, thanks to
Lokesh Rai who plays the peon. He may not have had a very significant role but a play is nothing without the right comic relief. Tiwari himself is perfect as the second fiddle, unafraid to enjoy himself on stage.

The play was originally written by Fritz Karinthy, a Hungarian writer and journalist. It has been directed by Avneesh Mishra under the banner Rangshila. The story is said to be inspired by students committing suicide after crumbling under academic pressure. While this concept was talked about endlessly after Aamir Khan's film, 3 Idiots, the play is quite refreshing. It reminds us once again of the flaws of the Indian education system, and succeeds in spreading a few laughs along the way.

*Afsha Khan is a Mumbai based writer and blogger.

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