Direction : Adhaar Khurana
Writers : Adhir Bhat and Bobby Nagra
Cast : Hussain Dalal, Priyanshu Painyuli, Shriya Pilgaonkar and Shikha Talsania


Anil D'Souza

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The first thing to strike is the dull crimson hue that lights up the double-bed which is the solitary prop visible in the centre of the stage. Crimson is the colour of desire. Not ‘love’ so much, since Sid is yet to exorcise the shallow relationship he shared with his college sweetheart and which continues to run a roller coaster through his current relationship with Rhea.

INTERNAL AFFAIRS, an Indianised adaption of MY ROMANTIC HISTORY, by the Scottish playwright Daniel C. Jackson, is a charming exercise in artistic frugality as the four young actors work through multiple characters resembling a carousel of nimble acrobats in graceful motion.

Sid introduces his many stories as they collide at various intersection points and shape his narrative. The narrative of this young newbie at the workplace is quite straightforward and presented with sardonic humour cutting through the melancholia that afflicts many a young man in a metro. So evenings are spent in cheap watering holes where romance blossoms, gossip is exchanged and advice sought. Home is a bachelor pad away from a maladjusted family. Companionship is Rhea, often interrupted by memories of the brusque college sweetheart, who keeps flashing in and out of Sid’s present day.

Rhea’s story is not very different. The anxiety of keeping up with acceptable peer norms at the workplace requires her to find a partner who is socially desirable. Sid appears a fair fit, and after all, most men, she surmises, behave with a consistency that allows them to share certain insensibilities in their relationships with women. This is good reason for having a relationship and is equally good for letting one go. For Rhea, there is comfort in this consistency, which is often punctuated with memories of an intense and poker faced ex-lover who would speak to her with passion filled lines borrowed from Jim Morrison and not withot a dose of local picnic rhyme.

Rhea needs to take a decision. Sid needs to find a way out of the quagmire that this relationship is turning into. Their individual pasts continue to cast a smoggy cloud over their present. Alas, the other people who defined their lives seem to move on with no compunctions.

The script is fluid and contextualised to the Indian palette. It is energetic with everyday lingo that blends farcical lines with a pathos that defines our two protagonists as they awkwardly reassess their own identities. Rhea and Sid represent the millennial youth who struggle to define relationships, confounded in their attempts to seek a stable context from which they could dervive meaning. Hussain Dalal is brilliantly funny and is at ease with the various characters he portrays. Shikha Talsania wraps herself around each character with the habitual dexterity of a Mumbaikar getting in and out of a peak hour local. At times the core structure of the actor’s comic style carries too many similarities into every character played by them. You can see the actor in the character all too easily, and this hampers the individualisation of each character.

While Priyanshu exudes warmth as Sid, the primary narrator, he tends to speak his lines rather hurriedly. Shriya Pilgaonkar as Rhea, is the everyday girl, chirpy with a hint of sorrow in her quest for companionship and identity. Aadhar Khurana has directed well, seamlessly blending each element of this play, localised by Adhir Bhat and Bobby Nagra.

*Anil D'Souza enjoys commenting on drama and its versatility in mirroring our lives.

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