Direction : Adwait Dadarkar
Writer : Mihir Rajada
Cast : Leena Bhagwat, Shashank Ketkar, Mangesh Kadam and others


Ujwala Karmarkar

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If you are looking for an evening of laughter, this is the play to watch. A ''middle class Marathi manoos'' and his stick-in-the-mud attitude are displayed to perfection, albeit exaggerated to accommodate the main aim of the production - humour!

Indeed, the title of the play- GOSHT TASHI GAMTICHI (A fun-filled story) says it all. A nuclear family, with father and son on a seesaw in their relationship, with the mother as the fulcrum that delicately balances the trio, forms the crux of the story. Should parents let their children spread their wings, or shelter them forever? Is it wrong to break the mould of parental expectations? Is being modern good or bad? The play deals with these age-old issues with a tongue-in-cheek, irreverent, and at times, introspective approach.

Dixit is a typical Marathi man, who works hard to provide for his family, and is rather content with what he has achieved. He lives in a tiny flat in Vile Parle East (the Marathi man's haven). A clutch of tuitions have brought him a steady income; he cycles to work and has some savings to last him in his old age. He looks forward to his son working in a steady job after his graduation and ''settling'' down.

The son's late nights out with his friends, his presumed disrespectful attitude towards the father and on-off relationship with his girlfriend, baffle, anger and irritate Mr Dixit constantly. In short, Mr Dixit is the prototype of a conventional, middle-class father who has seen tougher days when he was young. But he is not someone to suffer in silence. His outbursts, predictably directed to his wife and confrontations with his son are the stuff that decibel-shattering shouting matches are made up of. Indeed it is left to the perennial peacemaker in the family- the mother, to defuse these verbal time-bombs every single time. And, she does so admirably- with a pinch of laughter and dash of humour, oodles of patience and a tactfully closed window to prevent the neighbours from overhearing.

The last straw for Dixit is, however, the declaration from his son that he believes that he is not cut out for a 'boring' fixed-wages job. He wishes to be a businessman, he says. He wants to shatter the boundaries of his life, and explore new avenues - something, that his father has never done!

The comedy ripens. Becoming a businessman may be second nature for someone from the Gujarati or the Marwari community for instance. It is, however, anathema to the MMM- Middleclass Marathi Manoos, whose dream rarely extends beyond a comfortable job and a steady income. Thus starts a tug-of-wills between father and son. In a bout of parental indignation, Dixit challenges his son to a game. Father and son will, in turns, ask the other to do something.

The son starts off by asking his father to say ''I love you'' to him. Despite his efforts, the stodgy, dry-as-dust Dixit fails miserably at this and ends up saying ''I hate you.'' Round one thus goes to the son. This marks the beginning of a skirmish between them. A game of one-upmanship ensues to compel the other to see what he is missing from his life and how he could change it.

What follows is ''funny'', rib-tickling comic fare. When the father is compelled to take the mother out on a date (as part of the game), the result is simply hilarious. The bitter-sweet memories recounted between them, the ease of each other's company despite the awkwardness that accompanies any ''PDA'' (Public Display of Affection) gave me a sense of deja vu. It underlines the love between many middle class couples in India from former generations, strong enough to weather all hardships, but never expressing their feelings aloud.

Will father and son arrive at a compromise? How will this game change them? What role does the mother play in this? Mr Dixit, the father, played by Mangesh Kadam and the mother played by Leena Bhagwat, are simply superb. Their mutual chemistry and comic timing are the true backbone of this Gamtichi Gosht, as is the script by Mihir Rajda, spearheaded by Adwait Dadarkar's direction. Shashank Ketkar as the son also does a great job. The music by Abhijeet Pendharkar and costumes by Amita Khopkar complement the production.

The bit where the son is 'interviewed' was the only part which dragged on despite best efforts to make it comical. The play features so many facets of middleclassdom in the Marathi community that one almost heard the sighs, giggles and murmurs of assent amidst outright laughter in the audience.

*Ujwala Karmakar is an Anaesthesiologist by profession. She likes to watch plays, read, and listen to music among other things. Ujwala has also been writing on women's issues, parenting, travel, etc.

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