Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A funny blame game

Acclaimed theatre personality Bharat Dabholkar brings to you desi humour with his Blame it on Yashraj. He speaks about it, along with his newer play and directing a play of his style.

While English theatre thrives in Indian metro cities like Mumbai, it occasionally makes it appearance in Pune. An acclaimed English play, Blame it on Yashraj, had come to Pune a few months back. The director of the play is acclaimed theatre personality, actor and ad-filmmaker Bharat Dabholkar. One can give him the credit of bringing in Hinglish theatre. His humour is very Indian and touches one and all. Dabholkar speaks of writing and producing this unique play called Blame it on Yashraj and his work in general.

Would we call it the very typical Bharat Dabholkar play like the previous ones?
Unlike other plays, Blame it on Yashraj is about a wedding in a family. My other plays had mostly Marathi cast and so the accent came in with it too. Here, the cast is different. It is a different play though the basic style is the same. It is a typically Indian play about people from different backgrounds coming together.

How did the concept come up? Is it a typical rom-com? And why Blame it on Yashraj?
Bharat Dabholkar
It is unlike my other plays. It is about Indian weddings which gets bigger and bigger. People have stopped asking for the typical weddings associated with particular communities because of Bollywood. You have choreographers, mehndi ceremonies, destination weddings and so on in all weddings. The scenario has changed. In the name, Yashraj represents Bollywood. In the play, the bride has a Punjabi father and Bengali mother but wants to marry a Muslim. When you think of a Muslim family, you think of terrorist. When the bride’s father gets to know, he imagines terrorists are attacking his house. When they meet, you feel the Muslim family is more educated and fun-loving. It is also a musical. In the last 10 mins, it is all non-stop dance and music.  

It’s quite popular amongst the masses. Was that expected?
Weddings are an integral part of our lives. Anything in this play connects to your wedding. Since it is about a wedding which gets bigger, it might remind one of the weddings one has seen. People feel as if watching a scene from real life. It is like a reflection from your life. After watching it, people have actually come to me saying that this is exactly how it happened in their life. This is what finally works for everyone.

I was intrigued by the casting, especially of Ananth Mahadevan and Jayati Bhatia.
I have known Ananth for years. But I have worked with Jayati for the first time. The interesting thing is she is a Bengali married to a Punjabi. When she came for the audition, I didn’t know that. But she had the perfect accent and then she revealed her connection.

You have been low-key lately. Intentional?
I did a small play called Talk to Me, Aishwarya. I also did Purush in English. After a long time, I came up with this present play. Now, I have come up with a newer version of Bottom’s Up with newer topics. 

You are known for your Indian style of humour. Presently, do you feel we still have that humour?
The thing is different kind of things are happening. Youngsters are coming to theatre. Like in Bottom’s Up, I will be having stand-up comedy by actors. Stand-up comedy is about making fun of things around like politics, etc, which is what the play is about. Youngsters these days are also seeing stand-up comedy and are connecting with it. On social media, people are taking on other people. Youngsters relate to it. Frankly, things have not changed a lot while making fun of politicians. You still have the same old people to laugh at.

Anyone who is your favourite at the moment?
 I don’t see much of theatre these days. But I have seen Vir Das’s show a couple of times and he is one of the best.

Have you given film direction any thought? As a Maharashtrian, why not make a film in Marathi?
A lot of people have approached me. But I am taking it easy. Work for Bottom’s Up is on. After that, maybe I will think. People are already doing great work in Marathi. I will do a film in Hindi.

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