Biwi O Biwi – Day 4, Theatre Fest 2011

Rakesh Bedi and his lineup, consisting of people from the Indian People’s Theater Association, meant that Day four of Theater fest was something you could look forward to. Consummate actors, known faces and a popular play with quite a few performances already done – it was safe to assume that this play was not going to be a waste of time, at the very least.

A bit about IPTA – they’ve been in the theater business for six decades. IPTA Mumbai alone has done over a hundred plays and they’ve generally been associated with the who’s who of performing arts. The supposedly cool thing is that IPTA is a non-profit. All of their artistes are volunteers. Also, the group’s generally made plays with a social message, and this time it was not going to be any different.

The play, it was stated, was to tackle the issues of male chauvinism and male predominance in society. With plays that raise socially relevant issues (whatever these are), the first question one tends to raise – did they succeed in putting their message across? Did Biwi O Biwi succeed? To a large extent, I’d say yes. LT was full of people – the seats, the aisles and every other inch of sitting/standing/tiptoeing space had been taken up, much like they do in Virar rush hour locals. The organisers had to stop people from entering, which was also a safe indicator of Theaterfest’s success in general.

So how was the play? Wildly popular, if the audience’s reactions and applause are to be made one’s sole parameter. Personally, I was a tad disappointed. They had some good actors. But the story faltered a bit at times. A couple of scenes looked stretched. Stereotypes were overdone in quite a few places. Overall, it was too, well, 90’s in its makeup and form, if you know what I mean. The same loud characters, that quintessential overacting, the typically eccentric foreign characters – I didn’t really like it to be honest.

After Rafta Rafta had set the standard that it did on day three, day four was a slight disappointment in terms of critical appreciation. But it was a runaway hit with the audience anyway, which you could gauge from all the applause they got.

Overall, a nice end to the professional plays’ bit at Theaterfest. Well done Fourth Wall!

– Mohit Sharma