Rafta Rafta: Day 3, Theatre Fest 2011

Theater Fest Day three brought to us AKvarious productions’ Rafta Rafta. Surprise surprise, it was an English play, and that was probably what kept the audience slightly limited. Not that there was a single empty seat in the house, but with theaterfest, you’ve gotten rather used to seeing even the aisles being packed.

Now the cool thing about the performance was that this was the first time a play was having its premiere performance in the institute, which had all Fourth Wall people (and most of the rest of us) pretty kicked. Of course, they were going to perform at NCPA the following day and this was, probably, just a dress rehearsal for them. But who cares, I won’t play spoilsport here.

Over to the performance then. English plays, now, are not particularly easy since English ain’t our first language and you need a fair bit of practice and comfort with the language to be able to pull off roles convincingly. On that count, it did help that the play was set in England and that all characters were either Indian or Pakistani, so you could spare the slight slip up here and there. But, to the credit of almost all performers, at no point did they let you feel that language was an issue. Most of them were comfortable and consistent with their diction which was half the battle won.

With the language issue out of the way, the stage was set for the performance. And light it on fire they did! Superb acting, brilliant dialogues, insane comic timing, splendid attention to detail – I doubt if there was a dull moment in the entire performance. If I absolutely have to find a flaw with the play, the bride’s father was not really comfortable with his lines at the outset. But even that got rectified as things went on.

The story? A sensible guy from a typical Punjabi family (yeah, Punjabi families, especially the phoren ones are indeed over the top – take it from me) gets married to this beautiful apple-of-her-father’s-eye Muslim girl. The girl’s loud and boisterous father-in-law combined with all the other Punjabi characters and the bride’s लट्ठमार mother, combined with the guy’s inability to do it for six weeks after marriage (given that they’re staying with his parents and that he’s uncomfortable with it) make for a hilarious story, pulled off incredibly well, make for an ideal end-of-the-day comedy. If you missed it, too bad :).

– Mohit Sharma