Dear Liar-Shahs on Shaw at Prithvi Theatre Show, Mumbai

Dear Liar-Naseeruddin and Ratna Pathak Shah on Shaw



It is so tempting to use the Shah on Shaw pun that even the playwright/director could not resist it in one scene. I would go one step ahead and call Naseeruddin the Shahenshah or better with husband and wife there it should be Shah n Shah of Indian Theatre.

It was therefore a treat for me to revisit Prithvi Theatre and see these stars perform this play on George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell’s correspondence. The play is set at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

Let this review be a guide to theatre at Prithvi. Stand where there is that quaint little stand up board saying “Q.” There was utter confusion as to whether the queue was for our play or some show in the house opposite. I was surprised with so many actors around no one uttered ‘Hum jahan khade ho jaayen line wahin sey shooroo hoti hai.” Thank God I did not say it for I noticed they do have bouncers of an ancient sort- ‘which reminded me again of the Amitabh Bachchan line holding up a tiny security guard high up by the collar and saying, ‘woh bolo jo neeche bola tha’ in Satte pe Satta.

Needless to say both Naseeruddin and Ratna Pathak Shah did enormous justice to their stage roles. English after all is not their native language but they said their lines with aplomb and precise diction. Even a Henry Higgins would have been proud of their pronunciation. Both did great justice to and through their roles. Of course no one can doubt his English after the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Perfect Murder.

I felt a bit like Devyani Chaubal or to be more precise like Nawazuddin Siddiqui in “Mom”as the incognito detective. I noticed Manish Malhotra with Raj Zutshi; a folding chair appeared near the entrance after Act One and in came a very bearded Kunal Shashi Kapoor; A bit later in came Randeep Hooda. I will add names later of all the actors I saw some from television and some from the periphery of stardom.

I did feel that I was a part of a big cultured family. Everyone behaves except for the few with loud mobile phones; one with an immensely large mobile phone screen had an incoming call ring loudly and it seems he did not know how to switch it off; he ran in the dark for the exit trampling over many people. I think the doors were locked and I could hear him scratching at the door like a cornered rat for a long time. It takes all kinds—In ending –Hooray for the Shahs of Indian Theatre and its dedicated lovers.  

Spontaneous Combustion-Buckingham Secret, a Play

Spontaneous Combustion–Buckingham Secret at NCPA

JULY 2, 2017, MUMBAI


An innocent theatre novice like me was duly impressed by the Tata Theatre at NCPA. The building housing the NCPA is placed so prominently much like the Sydney Opera House at the edge of land reclaimed from the sea at Nariman Point.

One good thing that I did or omitted to do, thankfully, was read up on the play. I really expected a boring Palace murder mystery. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised at being hit smack in the face by this unique genre of theatre–Parsee Gujarati.

The well dressed people and the tea and snacks counter reminded me of Chandigarh in the 1960s when people went so enthusiastically to see the one English movie show per week in the evening at Jagat Cinema.

It is a big theatre hall and the centre seats facing the stage filled up quickly but the wings remained rather empty. The glass I would say was more than half full. The cast of actors will always be stellar for me after this performance.

I must admit that I was looking as much at the audience as at the stage. I was pleasantly surprised to find such rip-roarious laughter at the Parsee-Gujarati jokes especially the women I could see loved them. The audience reaction can only be called Spontaneous Combustion Laughter. The hall goes up in a roar as if someone had hit a sixer at the punch lines.  Danesh Irani is superb as Prince Phillip and so is Meherzad Patel as the Butler.Sabira Merchant of course is superb as the queen and I loved her bright yellow, blue and red dresses so Elizabethan II. Everyone did justice to their assigned place in the British royal family. I would not like to say more in order not to reveal the gems of surprise hidden in the play Buckingham Secret. A must see.