Sunday, November 04, 2007

Got to be Aishwarya

Went for a play after absolute ages. Wasn't really your connoisseur's delight, this Bharat Dhabolkar production. I have seen a couple of his earlier plays, both being bawdy pieces, typical sex comedies. Thankfully, he seems to have matured as a playwright. 'Got to be Aishwarya' deals with father-daughter bonding. Tom Alter plays Neil Kapoor, a Bollywood screenwriter who meets his long lost daughter from his first marriage, Reem (Ananya Dutt), who ironically has come to Mumbai to make it in the movie business. Their first meeting is awkward to say the least, but then over time how the father changes from a care free, cynical, and dry human being to a fretting, worried and doting dad, forms the crux of the proceedings. He is helped in this endeavour by his girlfriend and single mom, Anuradha (the lovely and supremely talented Mona Ambegaonkar, of 'Ambar Dhara' fame). They end up forming a nice little family unit of their own by the end of the play and its a happy story.

The play in itself is enjoyable on the whole, though cliched in parts. Issues like the man's fear of commitment, single motherhood, Bollywood double standards, and struggling in the movie industry are discussed. The set is pretty sparse and the proceedings take place in the protagonist, Neil Kapoor's flat.

Performance wise, Ambegaokar steals the show with her natural performance as the single mother in a carefree relationship with the screenwriter. She is a pleasure to watch in the supporting role that she essays. Her simultaneous insecurity (at suddenly being the second most important woman in Neil's life after the appearance of his daughter), and heartfelt love and sympathy for Neil is phenomenally well nuanced. Alter is good as well, but is visibly stretched during the the emotional scenes of the play. Ananya Dutt is passable and seems to wilt under the most demanding role on display, that of a daughter in search of her father who left twenty years ago. Someone should tell her that shaking her head vigorously while delivering her lines is not necessarily good acting... Anyways, a decent watch. A light, sprightly piece for the entire family.