Direction : Danesh Irani
Writer : Meherzad Patel
Cast : Danesh Khambata, Danesh Irani, Dinyar Tirandaz, Roshan Tirandaz, Afshad Kelawala, Shanaz Jehani, Parinaz Jal, Pheroza Modi, Azmin Mistry, Zenia Kollah, Huzan Wadia, Siddharth Merchant, Farokh Kateli, Sajeel Parakh and Sam Patel


Swapna Vora

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March 21, Tata Theatre was abuzz with Parsis of all ages and from all social strata. The occasion was Jamshedi Navroze, the Parsi New Year and there was a natak (play) on. The cafeteria did brisk business with sandwiches and cold beverages. The doors soon opened and we entered the auditorium. As the prelude music played, I couldn't help remembering the late Adi Marzban's advice to us at a Sunday morning theatre workshop - "The music you play before the play begins, shouldn't overwhelm the audience chatter. Let them relax and enjoy it." It was years since I last went for a natak on Navroze. The previous outings had been far from satisfactory. So I approached I'M BAWA AND I KNOW IT with a twinge of apprehension.

I'M BAWA AND I KNOW ITThe prelude music was soothing. The audience settled in as the lights dimmed. A woman sits at a table backing the audience. Two young men are being ramrodded by her and while one is being silent, the other is answering. You can make out the yarns. As the play progresses, the plot is fairly simple. Keki's (the quiet one) parents are selling their flat in Cusrow Baug and migrating to Canada, but Keki doesn't want to go. The Parsi Panchayat Trustee informs him that he can only keep the flat if he gets married to a Parsi girl before the parents leave for Canada and that too within 30 days.

Not only does Keki not like anything Parsi; but he is gay! His boyfriend is none other than his spokesman Viraf. The latter goes about plotting an amusing shenanigan and they decide to get ''married'' so that Keki gets to keep the house and they stay together. Viraf becomes Keki's fiancé, 'Nargis'. The fun begins when Viraf's parents come to their ''son's'' wedding.

I'M A BAWA AND I KNOW IT written by Meherzad Patel has the advantage of a well written, socially relevant script. The play explores and questions the draconian code endorsed by the community leaders that displays hostility towards intermarriages, unfair housing policies and now, a most relevant issue, the taboo of homosexuality. In a way the play takes up cudgels against these serious issues that prevail in the Parsi community even in the 21st century. Meherzad Patel's humourous lines worked well with the audiences as they were punched perfectly. The laughter was sometimes so loud that we lost the ensuing lines. Director Danesh Irani has commendably directed this farcical comedy. The performances have been somewhat restraint, barring a few places where they have gone embarrassingly over the top.

Danesh Irani also ably doubles up as Viraf, and plays his Machiavellian-like character convincingly. His best scenes are as Nargis - he carries off the saree in a most graceful way. Danesh Khambatta rightly underplays Keki as the quiet and 'dumb' character. Huzan Wadia as the Trustee had a challenge, as she is required to sit with her back to the audience but she is still able to dominate the scene with her voice. Siddharth Merchant and Afshad Kelawala acquit themselves well in their short appearances. Roshan and Dinyar Tirandaz who play Keki's parents lend their veteran presence to the play.

Overall, I'M A BAWA AND I KNOW IT makes a fine evening out at the comedy theatre. I recommend it to all Parsis to catch it at the next show.

*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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