Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Shevgyacha Shenga Marathi play review

Written and directed by Gajendra Ahire, the Marathi play's title Shevgyacha Shenga refers to the drumsticks, which play a role in one of the scenes. 

The play’s theme is companionship. What’s new about that one may well ask. What’s new is that it delves into issues of gender, such as menopause. There were audible gasps in the audience when characters spoke openly about it. 

Shevgyacha Shenga play highlights

The theme of companionship plays out through generations thrown together as neighbours. There is a widow and widower, a young lady paying guest and a bindhaast­ mid-life crisis-facing woman separated from her husband. 

The dialogue sparkles and some of  the lines stand out for their acute observation. One such is when the widow on seeing the widower reduced to tears as he eats her home made food remarks, “It’s been a long time since you ate a meal cooked by a woman’s hands, isn’t it?” 

The technique of asides is used for the narrative to bind the play together and act as social comment, such as the hitherto liberal father’s sudden change of heart when it comes to wanting to see his daughter married. 

Set in a middle-class milieu of a colony, what also sets this play apart is well, the sets. Most Marathi plays do not venture into many different settings but Shevgyacha Shenga ­pulls off with elan two flats, a bungalow, a street, a neighbourhood coffee shop, a jungle and even a beach in Goa! On a small stage, the backdrop of Mario Miranda sketches wobbled a bit but the transitions work, which is what counts.

The play is anchored by the superlative performance of Swati Chitnis. Playing the widow, Chitnis brings out the abrasive, slightly coarse patina of her character with ease. 

On the other hand, Sanjay Mone, playing the neighbouring widower fumbles at times and does not own his monologues, which are also a little repetitive in content. 

The aged couple’s need for companionship is etched well without becoming too dire or mushy, retaining its wit and froth. 

The young couple's story in contrast follows the predictable formula of one partner wanting to live life fully and the other wanting to focus on career. 

However, the interactions of the young lady and the bohemian singleton by choice provide some of the best parts of the play with its open dialogue on love and longing. It never gets sleazy because the performances by Kadambari Kadam, playing the young lady and Aatisha Naik, the bohemian, do not stray into that territory by look or gesture. Seema Parkar, playing multiple roles of vegetable seller, corporate woman and daughter also contributes to the rich tapestry of the play. 

Go watch Shevgyacha Shenga - it is value for your ticket money!

Play Cast

Swati Chitnis: Mrs. Barve (widow) 
Sanjay Mone: Mr. Sasaane (widower)
Aatisha Naik: Aarti (bohemian) 
Kadambari Kadam: Vinaya (young lady paying guest) 
Nikhil Raut: Ranjan Barve/Rahul (son/boyfriend)
Seema Parkar: Miss. Seema (corporate lady/vegetable seller)

Director: Gajendra Ahire

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