Neha Shende

Writer : Iravati Karnik
Direction : Advait Dadarkar, Ranjit Patil
Cast : Priya Bapat, Umesh Kamat, Aashutosh Gokhale, Pallavi Ajay


Umesh Kamat is the uncrowned king of Marathi romantic comedy, but continuing to work in the same genre can sometimes bring a certain repetitiveness to performance and unfortunately, that's what you get to see in Kamat's latest play JAR TAR CHI GOSHTA, in which he teams up once again with director Adwait Dadarkar and co-actor Ashutosh Gokhale from his last play DADA EK GOOD NEWS AAHE. The biggest draw? Kamat stars opposite his wife - actress Priya Bapat.

This is the story of a divorced couple - Samar and Radha, played by Kamat and Bapat ÃÆ'¢â‚¬" who accidentally end up going to the same resort in Alibaug one weekend with their current partners, played by Pallavi Ajay and Gokhale. This is fodder for the perfect romcom: meeting an old flame (in this case, a divorced spouse), sexual tension, awkward situations, and the ensuing comedy. But the play falls short.

It is not a bad play; in fact, it is quite watchable if you want to simply have a good time. But on closer inspection, it feels almost as if the Kamat-Dadarkar-Gokhale team came together only because of the similarities between JAR TAR CHI GOSHTA and their previous play, its success and the potential for a repeat performance with the current one. Both plays portray Kamat as the intense, serious, older guy and Gokhale as the innocent, almost buffoonish but lovable younger guy. They play off each other's opposing personalities for easy laughs. But while the duo lifted DADA EK GOOD NEWS AAHE to a laugh-out-loud comedy, in their latest play, these jokes feel forced. Gokhale does comedy very well, but in this play, his lines don't always land.

Bapat as Radha is the sort of textbook pretty heroine who is, at times, almost cloying. Her character brings most of the emotion to the storyline. Unfortunately, you never care for the character as much as the writer hopes you will. Her problems, her feelings for Samar and her search for her self-identity never feel real enough to touch the viewer.

There is one memorable scene where Radha talks to Samar's girlfriend. There is some good female bonding, an effort to put out the right message and some great lighting to create a moonlit night on the beach. She sings a beautiful song and for a moment, you can feel the breeze blowing through Bapat's long silky hair.

Towards the end, the play picks up. The ending is not unexpected. Sometimes, comedies take time to marinate. Maybe over time, with enough polishing, JAR TAR CHI GOSHTA might shine. But for now, it only seems like a breezy stress buster for the weekend.

*Neha Shende is an avid theatre-goer and enjoys watching old Bollywood movies in her free time.

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