Direction : Glenn Hayden
Cast : Garima Yajnik, Sunny Sharma, Anusha Shetty, Samay Singh

CHAFED Play Review

Parul Rana

 CHAFED Review

The play explores the multiple issues and problems that exist in the ever-evolving film industry and the complexity of the relationship of a couple living in Mumbai, both pursuing acting as a career. It explores what it takes in the journey to 'make it'.

The very first act establishes Prerna (Garima Yagnik) as an actor who appears to be finding her way to get projects, auditioning with different casting directors in Mumbai. Prerna is in a wrecked state of mind and is anxious about going to different places for auditions and putting herself out there. Siddharth (Sunny Sharma) too is an actor and is Prerna's partner. Both Prerna and Siddharth share an apartment. There is constant friction in their relationship that is affected by multiple factors leading to jealousy, deceit, abuse, narcissism, selfishness, and complete ignorance of each other and the world around them.

Aarav (Samay Singh), is Siddharth's younger brother, who is also an actor striving to make a mark in the industry. He is lost and clueless, and mostly follows Sid bhaiya's guidance. His antics at times bring humour to the otherwise serious setting of the play.

The play is divided into several acts and each is a narration of a specific problem. While in the first act, we get an insight into the vulnerability of actors and their daily life including giving various auditions, meeting several directors, and always living on the edge. The audience is also introduced to Saisha (Anusha Shetty), a friend of Prerna, who now runs a women's help group called Uncaged and was once a struggling actor in the same city. Saisha is emotionally supporting her and also warning her of the toxic relationship that she is in. Saisha makes it clear to Prerna that she needs to take a stand for herself.

Prerna, who is clearly going through mental distress, seeks help and takes prescribed medicines. It is good to see creators acknowledging mental health issues and the importance of seeking help here. It is important to understand the fragility of a struggling artiste's mind which may further be triggered by the rampant discrimination in the industry, casting couch, and lastly a controlling partner.

Saisha and Siddharth have a long conversation about the need for women's rights and the difference in ratio between crimes induced against women as compared to those against men. (Not to dismiss the latter though).

The second half of the play indirectly touches upon topics like the Me Too Movement, when Prerna accuses the director of Siddharth's upcoming film of sexual harassment on her social media post. She does this one day before the premiere of his film.

Unsurprisingly, Siddharth asks her multiple questions to verify the authenticity of the incident, making her live the trauma once again. He goes to the extent of asking her to remove the post to which Prerna doesn't agree. In the end, Prerna finally decides to end her relationship with Siddharth and leaves the house stating "If your mother didn't leave your father, it doesn't mean no girl will ever leave you."

The play opens a wider discussion on topics such as the dark side of the industry, self-respect, and toxicity in a relationship. The cast is new and fresh, and they have their own way of telling the story. The drama is produced by Speed Play Productions, and it's the first outing for Mumbai-based actor Sunny Sharma as a playwright. International award-winning Australian director Glenn Hayden helms this four-hander. The writing by Sunny Sharma and his portrayal of Siddharth as a controlling, toxic boyfriend comes out decently well. There are moments in the play when Garima Yagnik shines through her portrayal of Prerna. Samay Singh too manages to shine through the little time he has on stage as Siddharth's brother.

Overall, CHAFED is a journey through the complex lives of four actors who are a part of the film industry in Mumbai. The play has the potential to leave you with questions about the industry and the complexity of human relationships.

*Parul Rana is a theatre enthusiast and movie buff.

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